Countdown has commenced

By 16th August 2018Louise's Column

Are you on track to a financially secure retirement future?

When you are at the point of retiring, the new pension freedoms have opened up all sorts of alternative strategies to taking your pension benefits. The very concept of retirement is changing.

‘Phased retirement’ is becoming more common. The way we access our pension is now a lot more flexible, and it’s no secret that in the UK we’re living longer than ever before. A longer retirement and more choice over how you take your pension make for an exciting time. And planning ahead will help ensure you’re on track to a financially secure future. Our timeline will help you get started.

Although retirement can still seem a while away, begin to consider what you want your life to be like when you get there.

Ten years before you plan to retire
Here are some things to think about as you start to build your plan:

The age you’d like to retire
How much you’ll likely have in your pension fund/s, and the income you’ll need when you retire
Any savings, investments or other assets that you could add to your retirement income
How your living expenses could change in the future
How you’ll pay for any travel, hobbies or further education once you’ve retired
An emergency savings fund, to help with any unexpected costs like car or home repairs
Paying off any debts before you retire
How you’ll support your dependants once you’ve retired
Putting money aside to pay for long-term care for you, your partner or other dependants

Don’t forget that your spending habits are likely to change in retirement. For example, your commute costs are likely to be lower, but more time at home may mean your utility bills go up.

Five years before you plan to retire
Now is the time to make sure your goals are on track:

Decide the age you’re likely to retire
Consider phasing your retirement and continuing to work part-time for your current or a new employer
Boost your pension by increasing your contributions and/or adding lump sum payments (take advantage of any unused pension tax allowance)
Trace any lost pensions through the Pension Tracing Service
Ask for up-to-date statements for all your pensions. You can also get a forecast of your State Pension at www.gov.uk
Look over your investments and savings to see if they still meet your attitude to risk as you get closer to retirement
Think about whether you’d like to take an income from your pension or whether you want a pot of cash, including any tax-free allowance, to do something different in retirement
Discuss your options with a professional financial adviser
Write a Will or review your existing Will – and plan what will happen to your pension and estate if you die, plus any tax implications.

Six months to go
It’s time to give yourself a retirement readiness check-up:

Review your pension statements to get an accurate picture of what your funds are worth
Make an appointment with your professional financial adviser for advice on the best retirement options for you
Determine the best option/s for taking your pension savings to meet your financial and lifestyle needs
Tell your pension providers you’re planning to retire, so that they can send you any and all information you need in plenty of time
Update your beneficiary information
Set a date for a pre-retirement meeting with your employer
Let the HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) know you’re retiring because your change of status will affect your tax code
Budget for changes in your day-to-day spending after you retire

Twelve to eight weeks before
It’s down to business now – you’re just outside of your selected retirement date:

Speak with a professional financial adviser to consider your options and retirement plans
Ask your provider about the ways you can access your pension based on the options available
You should receive a letter four months before you reach State Pension Age, telling you how to claim your State Pension. If you haven’t received this by three months before, here’s how to claim this
Look into any entitlements from the Government over and above any State Pension you may get, as these could make a real difference to your living costs

Eight to two weeks before
The final countdown! It’s time to make sure you have all the information you need to help make a decision:

Consider any retirement quotes that your provider may have sent you
Remember, if you want to use your pension to provide an income, you should shop around the different providers to get the best income you can. If you and/or your partner have a health and/or lifestyle condition, then you could get an even higher income as different providers also cover different conditions
You’ll also need to apply to your provider/s if you’re moving pensions from different sources
There you have it – happy retiring!

PENSIONS ARE A LONG-TERM INVESTMENT.

THE RETIREMENT BENEFITS YOU RECEIVE FROM YOUR PENSION PLAN WILL DEPEND ON A NUMBER OF FACTORS INCLUDING THE VALUE OF YOUR PLAN WHEN YOU DECIDE TO TAKE YOUR BENEFITS WHICH ISN’T GUARANTEED, AND CAN GO DOWN AS WELL AS UP.

THE VALUE OF YOUR PLAN COULD FALL BELOW THE AMOUNT(S) PAID IN.