SJP errors see exit fees waived
Those of you who have been reading the Wealth Management Update for many years will have heard almost this exact story a number of times. Here we go again …
A financial publication has reported that a client won a case against St James Place (SJP) to waive the exit fees they imposed, because of poor service and advice.
Firstly, why is SJP charging exit fees? Why is a client being charged for the return of their own investment? We find that remarkable in itself, not to mention the fact that this had to go all the way to the financial ombudsman to be resolved!
SJP typically charge clients an exit fee to take out their investments within 6 years of the original investment. If a company is confident in their ability to provide great service, then clients should not want to move away from them and therefore there should be no need for any type of exit penalty.
We cannot comment on the advice that SJP provided, but the apparent catalogue of errors that affected this client’s investments over a number of years is quite astounding and worrying! It is cases such as these that paint financial advisors in a poor light and make it much more difficult for those who genuinely want to help people.
Don’t forget your allowances
The end of the tax year is fast approaching (as it always seems to)!
Don’t forget that you have an annual ISA allowance this tax year of £20,000, which CANNOT be rolled over. It is a “use it or lose it” allowance, so make sure you use it!
The benefit of placing funds in an ISA through your existing portfolio is that they will be managed under your existing agreement, which means that when you come to access the funds in the future they can be withdrawn tax free.
If you have a pension you also have a pension allowance this year of £40,000 or your net annual earnings (whichever is the lower), providing you haven’t accessed any of your taxable benefits. This allowance doesn’t have to be used this year and can be carried forward three tax years, providing you are a member of a pension scheme throughout. It is, however, good practice to use this allowance if it is relevant for you.
If you want more information or aren’t sure if these allowances are relevant to you, please get in touch with the team and we’ll be happy to advise you.
New HMRC online probate system
HMRC have launched an online probate service which they have previously trialled “by invitation” and now want to roll out to the wider public. The feedback from those who have used it already has been mostly positive but, having used some of HMRCs online services before, we are intrigued to see how it will fare being rolled out to the masses.
On the plus side it means that you can now apply, pay and swear a statement of truth online, meaning a trip to the solicitor’s office will no longer be necessary for most people.
Some notes on the service:
- The service can be used if the deceased was a permanent resident in England or Wales, if the applicant has the original Will and is named as an executor, and for up to four joint applicants.
- Anyone who struggles to use the online service can access face-to-face support with The Good Things Foundation.
- The paper form remains available to anyone who wishes to use it, and this too has been simplified.
These improvements and the new service are definitely a step in the right direction for logistics and ease of use for those suffering a bereavement, but this service should not be a replacement for advice and guidance on the actual probate process.
We always recommend employing a professional when completing probate as there are a number of pitfalls when completing the probate process yourself, some of which are:
- Legal jargon – Wills, probate forms and other documents can be confusing and full of legal jargon that is not easily translatable to the lay person.
- Trusts – Trusts are complex legal documents that are either already in existence or are created through the deceased’s Will. Either way, the process will include certain formalities and legal work that require professional assistance.
- Tax – Inheritance Tax (IHT) is the most obvious tax that will be payable, but this may require looking back through historic transactions and may contain complex calculations. Taxes other than IHT may also need to be considered before the estate can be distributed.
- Liability – Executors of Wills become personally liable for mistakes, omissions and losses/debts through the distribution of the estate, and so for peace of mind and accuracy it is usually best to appoint a professional.
- Paperwork – There is so much paperwork! There is a form for everything and anything and each one is needed in a different scenario. A professional will give you guidance and assistance on what needs to be completed and how to complete it.
Whilst we suggest employing a professional for probate purposes, we always recommend you appoint a lay person as executor for your Will. This means your executors will be able to employ their chosen professional at a rate they agree, rather than being tied to working with a company at what is usually a much higher rate.
Call Penguin Legal Services on 02920 450 143 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Banned credit card charges still exist
Levying charges on payments by credit card was banned in January 2018, although some retailers are still at it.
The charge for paying by credit card can be as little as 50p per transaction or can be a percentage of the transaction, which can increase the charge substantially. In some cases, to try to get around the ban, retailers and organisations are offering a ‘discount’ to those who choose to pay by means other than a credit card – effectively, in a roundabout way, charging more to those who use credit cards, but being sneaky about it.
The enforcement of these rules is unlikely to be a priority for Trading Standards as the pressure on them rises. The Treasury estimates that consumers spent £473m on card surcharges in 2010, so please watch out for this activity, make sure you report it, and make the retailer or organisation know that what they are doing is illegal. Most importantly, make sure you don’t get caught out by it!
Book of the month
This month’s book is a small book that gets to the heart of international relations. We Need to Talk About Putin by Mark Galeotti is a series of 11 essays explaining the man and his relationship with the world and his countrymen.
Clearly corrupt and manipulative, with an intent to feather his own nest and those of his cronies, Putin does not think entirely how we believe he does.
If you have any interest in international relations then this is required reading.
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Source: Moneyfacts Magazine March 2019 Edition