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Top tips for those retiring in 2017

Joanna Faith
Written By:
Joanna Faith

People approaching retirement and who have a defined contribution (DC) pension, have a lot of decisions to make thanks to the pension changes which came into force in April 2015.

WEALTH at work, a provider of financial education in the workplace, offers some top tips for those planning to retire in 2017:

  • YOU DECIDE! – The pension changes meant that people now have greater flexibility and freedom over how they access their DC pensions. This is great news, but with responsibility comes risk, so make sure you take your time, fully understand all of your options and that you are armed with all the facts.
  • Collate information on ALL your assets – Before you start to make any decisions based on your retirement plan, gather up to date information on all of your pensions and savings, and what they are all worth.  If you have ISAs, shares, deposit accounts, or any other assets, look at these as other potential forms of income in retirement.
  • How much income do you need and want? – Work out how much income you are going to need in retirement, including essential income to meet your day to day living expenses (including household bills), and discretionary income for holidays, hobbies etc.  There is a budget planner available on the money advice service
  • Can you afford to retire? – Do you have enough put by to be able to afford to retire, or do you need to work a little bit longer, or part time? Research has found that most people live longer than they expect they will, so keep this in mind when working this out.
  • Income drawdown, annuity, or a combination? – Income drawdown is no longer the preserve of the wealthy, and really just means that you can choose how and when you access your pension, but you should ideally get advice when deciding
  • Don’t pay unnecessary tax – If you go down the income drawdown route, make sure you don’t pay any unnecessary income tax. Usually 25% of your pension is tax free, and the remaining 75% is taxed as earned income. It’s worth looking at your options, for example, you may be better off taking a smaller amount each year from your pension, and top it up with savings from your ISA to use for income, as this is paid tax free.
  • Make sure your pension beneficiary details are up to date – In 2015, the Chancellor abolished tax on death on DC pensions for anyone who dies before the age of 75. This means that any remaining pension can pass onto your beneficiaries tax free, subject to you not exceeding the lifetime allowance limit, and providing the company pays out within 2 years of date of death.
  • Advice can be cheaper than no advice and give you added consumer protection – Many people are concerned about the cost of advice without realising that when you buy retirement products such as annuities, through for example online brokers, there are commissions to be paid which can cost just as much, if not more, than getting advice.  A financial adviser should look at all your assets, work out the most tax efficient way for you to fund your retirement income, and put the plan into place for you; then you have the benefit of consumer protection for the advice given.
  • If eligible, consider buying extra state pension – Women born before April 6, 1953 and men before April 6, 1951 have an opportunity to top-up their state pension by up to £25 per week. Details can be found at: gov.uk/state-pension-topup
  • Scams don’t look like scams – Scams look and sound legitimate, which is why people are hoodwinked. They often have very professional looking websites and literature. Whatever you are planning to do with your retirement savings, check before you do anything that the company is registered with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) https://register.fca.org.uk/