In PM Boris Johnson’s first briefing since recovering from Covid-19 he said:
Although there are no changes yet, the promise of the delivery of a “comprehensive plan” next week to set out ‘how we can get our economy moving’, how people might travel to work and how children can go back to school or into childcare leaves some optimism.
This is the last week of our “hot topics”, although we will continue to provide you with any necessary up to date information and ideas. Below we are look at protecting your family, wills and working from home.
Protecting the Family
There is no doubt that the current climate has brought all manner of concern regarding our families and their future plans in to sharp focus. Each of us and the people we are close to have been affected in various ways. The financial aspects, be it short term income concerns, implications to our businesses, the effect of the loss of loved ones can all be planned for by implementing simple financial planning strategies. The core of every financial plan is to ensure that long term goals and objectives, for you and your loved ones can be met, unhindered by the adversities that life can throw at us along the way.
As such protecting the family tends to be the central focus to many adviser / client meetings. Clients plan to ensure that their goals and objectives, for them and their families are achieved, and then look to safeguard those achievements for the next generation. There are a whole host of tools that are available in order to achieve this. They may include income protection, critical illness cover, private medical insurance, life cover or long term care strategies. Wealth preservation aspects including; inheritance tax and wealth transfer to the next generation, wills and lasting powers of attorney can also be considered.
All of these options can be discussed and reviewed as part of you regular meetings with your financial adviser. So, if adversity does strike, you are safe in the knowledge that you can focus on the things that matter.
Have you made a will?
When a person doesn’t leave a Will, their estate must be divided according to a strict set of rules, called ‘intestacy’ whereby only married couples, civil partners or close relatives are allowed to inherit or claim an estate.
The division of the estate according to intestacy might be an acceptable solution if you have a relatively small family, an uncomplicated family history, or you simply don’t mind if your spouse, civil partner or children will be the sole inheritors of the bulk of your estate.
However, more and more people are entering into first (or second) marriages with children from previous relationships, creating large blended families. Intestacy does not account for blended families, unmarried partners, complicated living situations, or other dependents.
Choosing to write a Will is the only way to ensure loved ones receive what you want them to upon your death. If you don’t leave a Will, here’s what will happen:
Under the rules of intestacy, your estate will be distributed in a specific order. Generally the distribution begins with your spouse, children and descendants, before expanding to other members of your family tree
If you aren’t married or in a civil partnership then the estate will pass to your descendants first, followed by other close blood relatives. Full blood relatives will always be prioritised according to this system, followed by half-blood relatives. Keep in mind that your estate will never pass to a relative related to you only through marriage.
Who inherits under intestacy?
Under intestacy, your estate is passed onto your spouse and close blood relatives. In England and Wales this includes:
If there is no living close member of your family, the estate is absorbed by the Crown and legally becomes ownerless property. This type of ownerless property is called ‘bona vacantia’ – this is complicated but it means it could end up with the Crown.
Who can’t inherit under intestacy?
The rules are old fashioned and don’t account for modern blended families and complex living situations.
Examples of loved ones who cannot inherit your estate under intestacy include:
You may be financially providing for a loved one or actively caring for them, but under intestacy they won’t be adequately provided for.
Please contact us if you are considering making or reviewing you Will and we can signpost you to the source of help or further assistance.
Working from home
Employers are responsible for the health and safety of all employees by law, including those working from home.
As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, employers may be unable to make the usual health and safety risk assessments at an employee’s home but they should still check that:
Employees also have a responsibility to take care of their own health and safety. They should keep in regular contact with their manager and advise them about any health and safety risks and any home working arrangements that need to change.
Employers and employees may currently be experiencing a higher level of stress and anxiety than normal as the isolation takes its toll. Many workers have been working from home for over 6 weeks and now the novelty has worn off issues with mental health are likely to increase.
There has never been a more important time to support your staff in relation to their mental health and wellbeing. As the pandemic has perhaps proven, without health our economy suffers. Some simple planning and organisational structure around mental health can go a long way.
Cyber Hygiene & data
Unfortunately, this current period of disruption is a breeding ground for scam activity and scammers are introducing a new twist on existing attacks. Many employees are trying to learn new systems and practices whilst working from home and scammer may be taking advantage of this confusion.
We are seeing an increase in phishing emails and other scams targeting vulnerable people and businesses offering refunds, grants or fake products.
It is important to get the basics right and ensure that your data and systems are kept secure. There are many guides online including from the National Cyber Security Centre and the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales.
Some of the key points include: