As we grow we change. As a baby, we quickly outgrew 0–3 month romper suits – that’s if we ever fitted into them in the first place, and throughout our childhood we continue to grow.
At some point, our parents decide that the amazingly cute but ‘dry clean only’ outfits are not as useful as the items you can quickly throw into the washing machine.
There will be times in our childhood where we may only want to wear one thing – girls may have a favourite item of clothing that they just ‘have’ to wear, and boys may revert to wearing football kits and nothing else.
As we grow into our adult years, we may start wanting to wear clothes that say something about us – whether this is to fit in with our friends or as some kind of status symbol.
When we stop growing, there is a theory that you could buy just one set of clothes that would last a lifetime. However, we change our clothes in view of our occupation and indeed our continuing changing shape and size, and there is always still be a requirement to follow the latest fashion or to treat ourselves to that new item.
Whilst there may still be the old faithful that stays in the wardrobe year after year after year, this is often interspersed with those new items or the items that were bought in the sale that seemed like a good idea at the time, but are unlikely to ever have the tags removed.
The changing death position from 2015 made the benefits from a pension scheme more widely available. However, the continuing problem of clients not regularly updating their expression of wish forms continues, and this becomes more and more relevant in view of the April 2015 changes to death benefits.
However, what is clear is that updating your expression of wish form and having regular conversations with your advisers regarding how you wish your benefits to be distributed in the event of your death, should be as regular as clearing out your wardrobe and ensuring that unsuitable items and spontaneous decisions don’t lie lurking, ready to be discovered.
Just like you may have a winter and a summer wardrobe to ensure all eventualities are covered, the expansion in the way that death benefits can be paid has led to many clients looking to extend the list of potential beneficiaries on their expression of wish form, so it is not very clear who should really receive the benefits.
The majority of death benefits, especially those under registered group life schemes, do not form part of the estate (unless a decision is made to make the payment directly to the estate, which is extremely rare).
Whilst the will is not the place in which to nominate beneficiaries, it can provide additional clarity. In the event of a dispute, administrators may request a copy of the will in order to ascertain any additional clarification available regarding distribution. Conversely, holding copies of expression of wish forms with the will may assist those dealing with your estate.
Finally, if you are intending to cut your family out of your pension scheme benefits and leave all the money (and clothes!) to charity, please make sure you do at least discuss this with one of your professional advisers and, if necessary, have your nomination form evidenced. Unlike a secret shoe fetish, this is one secret that you don’t want to come as a total surprise!
- Karena Woodall, Wealth Management Consultant, September 2016