If your marriage sadly doesn’t work out, your financial picture could change considerably. First, you may need to instruct a solicitor. You should receive a document setting out a guide to their costs, and then you can move onto the financial settlement.
Legal advice can help ensure you get up-to-date and fair valuations on any property and assets. Remember that this includes your pension fund, which is often a valuable asset, particularly if you’re divorcing later in life.
There are plenty of variables in a divorce settlement, and it can be a particularly emotional time, so ensure you are comfortable with the financial outcome. You may decide, for example, that one of you gets the house, while the other receives the pension – or, that a percentage of a pension will be paid to the other party on retirement. There’s also so-called ‘pension splitting’, where the pension holder gives part of their retirement pot to their former partner and transfers this into their name.
Remember that you will both be responsible for any debt on credit cards or loans held in joint names. Finally, don’t forget to get a financial consent order, to avoid any disputes over the settlement further down the line.
If you receive money from a family member or friend in their will, it can be tricky knowing what to do with this cash. There are plenty of options. If you’ve debt to pay off, you may want to use this money to get back in the black. Otherwise, you might consider paying of a chunk of your mortgage, or invest for the long-term towards retirement in an investment account.
Whatever you do with the money will depend on your personal circumstances, but you don’t need to rush into a decision. If you’ve lost a loved one, grief could cloud your judgement. You may want to place the money in a savings account, and make a decision at a later date. Remember that savings of up to £85,000 are protected in most UK bank and building society accounts by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS).
Hopefully, by the time you reach retirement, you’ve already stashed away a significant sum for your later years. But you’ll have some important decisions to make – and you have more options than ever following the introduction of pension freedoms in April 2015. Until then, the majority of retirees bought an annuity with their lifetime savings. Now, you can do as you wish, which includes drawing cash, staying invested and taking an income. You can also still buy an annuity – or take a mixture of approaches to your retirement income.
It’s worth considering financial advice in the run up to retirement to ensure you make the most of your pension pot, and to avoid subjecting yourself to unnecessary tax charges.