Planning For Your Retirement – November 2019
How much should you try to save to have a comfortable retirement?
The good news is that the number of people saving enough for a comfortable retirement has hit its highest ever level, with almost three in five Britons (59%) now saving adequately for the future. This is a significant improvement from the 55% proportion recorded 12 months ago, suggesting this April’s auto-enrolment step-up had an immediate positive impact on saving habits.
Annual and lifetime limits
When it comes to managing money, one of the things some people find most difficult to understand is the tax relief they receive on payments into their pension. Tax relief means some of your money that would have gone to the Government as tax goes into your pension instead. You can put as much as you want into your pension, but there are annual and lifetime limits on how much tax relief you get on your pension contributions.
Putting a value on your pension savings in the future
The pension lifetime allowance is a limit on the value of payouts from your pension schemes – whether lump sums or retirement income – that can be made without triggering an extra tax charge. The lifetime allowance for most people is £1,055,000 in the tax year 2019/20.
The foundation of most people’s retirement plans
Data for people qualifying for the full new State Pension following its introduction in April 2016 reveals that almost two in five pensioners (365,290 people, or 38% of claimants) receive less than £150 a week, while a further 314,290 people (33% of claimants) receive more than £150 a week.
Government’s bid to ensure ‘pension age equalisation’
On 3 October, campaigners lost a significant legal battle against the Government’s handling of the rise in women’s State Pension age. Up until 2010, women received their State Pensions at the age of 60, but that has been increasing since then.
Building up a pot of money to provide an income in retirement
With a defined contribution pension, you build up a pot of money that you can then use to provide an income in retirement. Unlike defined benefit schemes, which promise a specific income, the income you might get from a defined contribution scheme depends on factors including the amount you pay in, the fund’s investment performance and the choices you make at retirement.
Paying out a secure income for life which increases each year
A defined benefit pension scheme is one where the amount paid to you is set using a formula based on how many years you’ve worked for your employer and the salary you’ve earned, rather than the value of your investments. If you work or have worked for a large employer or in the public sector, you may have a defined benefit pension.
Saving tax-efficiently for retirement
A personal pension is a type of defined contribution pension. You choose the provider and make arrangements for your contributions to be paid. If you haven’t got a workplace pension, getting a personal pension could be a good way of saving for retirement.
Providing greater flexibility with the investments you can choose
A self-invested personal pension (SIPP) is a pension ‘wrapper’ that holds investments until you retire and start to draw a retirement income. It is a type of personal pension and works in a similar way to a standard personal pension. The main difference is that with a SIPP, you have greater flexibility with the investments you can choose.
One of the most important decisions you will make for your future
Under the pension freedoms rules introduced in April 2015, once you reach the age of 55, you can now take your entire pension pot as cash in one go if you wish. However, if you do this, you could end up with a large Income Tax bill and run out of money in retirement. It’s essential to obtain professional advice before you make any major decisions about how to access your pension pot.
Restrictions or charges for changing your retirement date
You might be able to delay taking your pension until a later date if your scheme or provider permits this. If you want your pension pot to remain invested after the age of 75, you’ll need to check with your pension scheme or provider that they will allow this. If not, you might need to transfer to another scheme or provider who will.
Choosing a taxable income for the rest of your life
You can normally withdraw up to a quarter (25%) of your pot as a one-off tax-free lump sum, then convert the rest into a taxable income for life called an ‘annuity’. There are different lifetime annuity options and features to choose from that affect how much income you would get. You can also choose to provide an income for life for a dependent or other beneficiary after you die.
Re-investing funds designed to provide you with a regular taxable income
With this flexible retirement income option known as ‘flexi-access drawdown’, you can normally take up to 25% (a quarter) of your pension pot or of the amount you allocate for drawdown as a tax-free lump sum, then re-invest the rest into funds designed to provide you with a regular taxable income. You set the income you want, though this might be adjusted periodically depending on the performance of your investments. Unlike with a lifetime annuity, your income isn’t guaranteed for life – so you need to manage your investments carefully.
Taking money from your pension as and when you need it
You can use your existing pension pot to take cash as and when you need it and leave the rest untouched where it can continue to grow tax-free. For each cash withdrawal, normally the first 25% (quarter) is tax-free, and the rest counts as taxable income. There might be charges each time you make a cash withdrawal and/or limits on how many withdrawals you can make each year.
Balance of flexibility and security to suit your circumstances
If you are looking for a balance of flexibility and security to suit your circumstances, you could consider blending your retirement options. You don’t have to choose one option when deciding how to access your pension pot – you could set up a combination of options to suit you.
Without very careful planning, you could run out of money and have nothing to live on
You could close your pension pot and take the entire amount as cash in one go if you wish. Normally, the first 25% (quarter) will be tax-free, and the rest will be taxed at your highest tax rate by adding it to the rest of your income. Once you’ve taken all the money, your pension will close and you won’t be able to make any further payments into it.
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