Money Matters

Looking back, planning ahead

Whistler time is here again, and how that time flies! It seems only moments since I was putting fingers to keyboard to write my last article. I considered addressing the thorny subjects of Bankers, their bonuses, manipulating interest rates and other such ‘hot potatoes’, but my guess is that most readers will be well and truly sick of them by the time this hits the presses. Furthermore, I suspect that, if I mention stock market volatility again this month, I may be strung up, from a lamp-post in Seven Dials!

Forgive me then, for looking back over the years, and musing over the back-issues of this noble periodical. I chanced upon an issue from 2002, where I urged people to review their family protection plans, to see where there were any dangerous gaps in cover. I mentioned a young man, one of our clients, who had been diagnosed with cancer at the age of 27, and claimed on his Critical Illness policy. I spoke with that same young man, only last week, who is well, happy, and just planning a family holiday to Spain. Things may not have been easy for him: apart from his illness, he was made redundant, and had to start working on a self-employed basis, yet he has managed to get by, and build his business, despite having a young family to support, principally because his mortgage was cleared by his insurance.

In the last month, we were notified of the sad death of a long-term client of our firm, who had been caring for his poorly wife for some years. She had recently been admitted to a nursing home, and despite her suffering, may live for years. My point in this case is that he firmly expected to outlive his wife, and almost all their assets were in his sole name; she has a few, but is not capable of dealing with them. Practically everything they owned is now subject to probate, and it may be months before the family can access funds. Nursing home fees have to be paid, and the family are relying on the good will of the proprietors, because the Local Authority has not stepped into the breach.

It is all too easy, to concentrate on savings, investments, and the acquisition of wealth, without considering the protection of one’s wealth, family, or both. It is always worth taking some time to look at the what ifs and seeing what steps you can take, to plan against the ill effects of those possibilities. Check your need for Life and / or Critical Illness Insurance; do you have Income Protection cover from an employer, or should you make your own provisions? Consider joint ownership of some assets, or writing policies in trust. A protection expert, from a major life assurance provider, once said to me “if one of my direct sales staff writes a life policy for someone, I want to hear a damned good reason why it is NOT being written under a Trust”. Advice should be inexpensive, and the potential cost of not having the right arrangements can be great. Do something, sooner rather than later.

That’s me done, for this issue. I’m going to put on my snorkel and flippers, and do some gardening.

David Foot david.foot@btinternet.com

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