State Pension changes in 2016 – can I top up my pension?

Financial Planning, Retirement planning
Retirement Planing

We, at Planned Departure believe that planning is a continuous process and legacy is just a part of it.  An important part of planning is taking care of pensions. Recently, there has been some changes in the State Pension. In this post our adviser partner Mr. Richard Hawkings explains what this initiative is and how it will affect individuals.

A new initiative allows people who reach the state pension age before April 2016, to top up their pension. This includes those that are already drawing the state pension. The Government is allowing retirees to buy extra state pension by paying so-called Class 3A voluntary National Insurance contributions between October 2015 and April 2017.

How will it help?

This will help people reaching state pension age before April 2016 who will not receive the new flat-rate state pension.

Some retirees will be better off under the new system (e.g. women and the self-employed) and the top-up will allow pensioners retiring before that date, and who may feel that they are missing out, a chance to build up a higher future state pension income. Among those who probably won’t achieve the equivalent of the flat-rate state pension of around £151, and will be interested in the top-ups, are people who’ve had career breaks and not paid NI for the full number of years and women bringing up children who’ve missed out on the additional state pension.

How much extra will be paid?

How much you’ll pay for the extra state pension will depend on your age, with the cost falling as your age increases and your life expectancy falls. The maximum extra pension you can buy is £25 per week, thus:

– At age 65 increasing your pension by £1 per week will cost £890, or £22,250 for an extra £25 per week;
– At 70, the cost is £779 for an extra £1 per week, or £19,475 for £25 per week;
– At 75, the cost is £674 for an extra £1 per week, or £16,850 for £25 per week;
– At 80, the cost is £544 for an extra £1 per week, or £13,600 for £25 per week.

How to make an extra purchase?

Making the extra pension purchase can be done either online or by telephone, using a one-off direct debit, online banking transfer or by sending a cheque. Your weekly state pension will increase with immediate effect, although there’s a 90-day ‘cooling-off’ period, during which you can change your mind and get your money refunded, less any payments you’ve already received.

Get in touch with Richard Now

Sources: http://www.which.co.uk (Article: 2015/10/10)

NOTE: Please do not treat this as financial advice.

About the Author:

Financial Adviser , Financial Planner
Richard Hawkings

 

I have been a Lifestyle Financial Planner / Independent Financial Adviser since 1998. My role is to help clients identify, achieve and maintain their desired lifestyle, without the fear of running out of money, whatever happens ! I help clients and businesses plan their future with regards to their Pensions, Investments, Life cover, Shareholder Protection, Keyman cover, Workplace Pensions.

 

The Second International Death Online Research Symposium – Summary of the first day!

I had the privilege of attending The Second International Death Online Research Symposium, held at the Kingston University, London, UK on August 17th – 18th, 2015. It was good to meet others, who like us, are researching death in the digital age.

Death Online Research is a network of international researchers interested in the study of how dying, death and the afterlife is mediated and expressed online. The network statement reminds me of the reasons why Planned Departure was created

“When an increasingly large part of life, from the most intimate to the most officious is manifest online, it should be of no surprise that death is there as well. We are able to relate to death online in different ways, e.g. before and after an actual physical death, or in more metaphorical ways within online forums, gaming environments and so on. Alongside the social media conversations, we have sites for mourning and remembrance as well as for legal advice, casket sale and funeral services. As the median age of Internet population continues to go up, matters connected to the physical death will have increasing importance…’

This event had many different aspects related to digital death. However, there was one common theme in most of the findings from research, which was explained by Dorthe in her opening keynote – Many death related practices are actually the online part of a larger picture counting both on and offline practices and being related to socio-cultural practices in all kinds of settings and contexts.

After Dorthe’s keynote, next section of the conference was on (Re)mediating death and bereavement .

This panel session was started by Katrin Doeveling from the University of Leipzig  and she discussed how online bereavement differs depending on the loss. She also highlighted the need for platforms like this and support provided by these platforms.

IMG_4458Online bereavement platforms provide opportunities for emotional communication within a group of like-minded, yet anonymous grievers.

In the next session, Anna Haverinen from the university of Turku discussed identities and how identity of the deceased and the bereaved is discovered in the process of creating memorial website. It was very interesting to understand that memorials are like caricatures highlighting only one or a few aspects of the individuals. It solidifies our belief that except deceased, no one else really knows how deceased would have liked to be remembered.

IMG_4471I really liked the next session from Dick Kasperowski and Kjetil Sandvik about the bereaved parents and the need to de-tabooisation of talking about death and specifically death of a children.

This talk was followed by the talk of Jo Bell on the experience of bereaved in the aftermath of  a suicide. She found that platforms like Facebook provided an excellent platform to support vulnerable people and to increase awareness and raise more funds for the suicide prevention.

IMG_4472Next few sessions were on the use of technology in this space. It was interesting to see the use of augmented reality apps for gravestone, new digital memorial platforms in Denmark and competitors of Planned Departure, all the way from Israil.

We believe that all these platforms will eventually make it easier for people to talk about death in the digital age!

Final session of this action packed day was from Vared (Rose) Shavit, who is an independent researcher on the topic of digital death. Rose highlighted the problem clearly with the results of er survey which were presented in a paper titled – “Online Legacies : Online Service Providers and the Public – a Clear Gap” 

IMG_4512This session was excellent and gave us opportunity to discuss the solutions we currently have in the market to address this problem and ways in which these solutions could be enhanced. It was good to see that the product road map we have in place is in line with the enhancements people are looking for! However, everybody agreed that more than anything else, we need to increase awareness about the complexities of dying in the digital age!

Second day of this conference was equally amazing and gave a lot more insight about digital death! Stay tuned for the next post and please share this summary with people who couldn’t attend this conference!

Digital Assets Postmortem – Probate versus Policy

Death in Cyberspace could have been taken directly from a Flash Gordon comic strip: Flash Gordon in combat with Ming the Merciless, the evil ruler of the planet Mongo.

It’s a bit more serious than that but, nonetheless, it makes for an interesting story.

Digital death is becoming an expanding area of law that is attracting considerable comment and interest from a plethora of parties. Much of this interest has stemmed from the media’s capitalising on the frenzy surrounding social media sites (such as Facebook) and the deaths of account holders. Parents, on the one hand, are demanding access to their deceased child’s account while the social networks argue the issue of privacy and the Terms and Conditions agreed at the time of opening an account.

Some progress has been made, with Facebook implementing its “memorialising” feature, allowing friends and families to request that a decedent’s account become effectively frozen whilst still providing access by family and friends.

Yet this amenity fails to resolve more substantive issues created by a digital passing, such as who can dictate the fate of a loved one’s account, over what time period should a memorialised presence be maintained and whether memorialisation is what the decedent would truly have wanted.

A death in cyberspace is a novel issue for many lawyers and presents some interesting challenges that society as a whole hasn’t fully come to grips with. It’s a quiet revolution that is rapidly coming to the probate and estate planning world.

Aside from social media accounts there are many other digital assets that are creating equally difficult issues.

Take for example your website. Is it hosted in the UK, in an Asian or European country, or perhaps in the USA? And what about your email accounts? Where are they held? In the event you become permanently disabled or you die, which country’s property laws apply?

And then there are issues relating to online payment accounts, virtual currencies and reward cards. Online payment mechanisms such as e-Bay, PayPal and Amazon will usually have traditional bank accounts linked to them, so it might be unlikely that cash balances will exist in the online accounts. However, this will definitely not be the case in every situation, requiring attorneys and executors to thoroughly check the online accounts for pending refunds and credits.

The situation with online accounts can be made even more difficult if the email address of the account holder is unknown. Often with no physical address and communication being made only by email (often to an enquiries@ address), dealing with these entities is generally more difficult than dealing with high street banks.

Additionally, with the increasing numbers of online-only banks beginning to emerge, attorneys’ and executors’ ability to continue to manage such accounts digitally may will depend on the terms and conditions of the bank.

Reward cards are a common inclusion in most people’s wallets and will include those from supermarkets, fuel companies, airlines and hotels. Whether or not the value of these schemes can be used by an attorney on behalf of an adult, or transferred after death, depends on the organisation administering the scheme.

Some of the big supermarkets provide for rewards to be transferrable on death, but other organisations – such as airlines and hotel groups – state that loyalty points that are unused at the time of death will be cancelled, together with membership of the scheme.

As the digital asset stakes in the cyberworld continue to rise, the challenge of finding a standard dispositional protocol for these assets may face competing power extremes. On one side of this continuum we have traditional property law, often adequately covered in probate. On the other side, however, we have corporate policy, manifested typically as a User Agreement or Terms of Service.

Contrary to what these extremes might suggest in terms of the best solutions to the issues raised by digital death, viable compromise solutions do not yet exist between these two legal extremes. One way forward would be to find a mid-continuum solution lying somewhere between probate law and corporate contractual policy that would serve the greatest number of societal interests.

Dealing with digital assets under a power of attorney or a Will can present challenges and will be an area of the law that attracts a lot of media attention.

Even though many digital assets may have more of an emotional or sentimental significance rather than financial value, it is an area of law that is beginning to raise new challenges for legal advisers and probate lawyers.

How much is the worth of your digital photographs?

Few will doubt that digital photography has overtaken conventional film for amateur and professional photographers. With our daily use of social media networks – Flickr, Facebook, Instagram and others – it’s easy to understand why. Once captured, digital photographs are already in a format that makes them incredibly easy to use and share. Digital is about sharing the content now and not so much about sharing photographic creations.

With point-and-click technology, we tend to take our photos for granted. Unlike analogue images we shot onto 35mm film and paid the processing fee to have developed, we only keep the digital images we want, the others we simply delete.

Smartphones, with their gigabyte storage, sophisticated lenses, built-in filters and the ability to automatically apply single-shot HDR (high-dynamic range) processing, have become a valid camera line for photography. They’re easily portable and we have them on us almost 24/7.

So, we snap away, download those images we want to keep: some going into cloud storage, others onto various other storage devices and some will even be used on our websites.

Unless you’re a professional photographer, these images will generally only have sentimental value. Or will they?

Not having a crystal ball makes it difficult to look into the future. Take a look at the picture above and place a value on the image. Does it have any financial value or is it just something of a sentimental reflection for those involved.

The girls, from left to right, are Angela Higney, Michele de Gennaro, Colette Marx-Neilsen and Lynn Veronneau. They made up a group called Les Horribles Cernettes and the picture was the first photographic image published on the World Wide Web.

Silvano de Gennaro, an analyst in the Computer Science department at CERN (the European research organisation based in Switzerland that operates the largest particle physics laboratory in the world) who helped form the band, said that Les Cernettes were the subject of the first photo of a band on the Web.

“Back in 1992, after their show at the CERN Hardronic Festival, my colleague Tim Berners-Lee asked me for a few scanned photos of “the CERN girls” to publish them on some sort of information system he had just invented, called the “World Wide Web”. I had only a vague idea of what that was, but I scanned some photos on my Mac and FTPed them to Tim’s now famous “info.cern.ch”. How was I to know that I was passing a historical milestone, as the one above was the first picture of a band ever to be clicked on in a web browser!”

Who knows what financial value “ Les Horribles Cernettes” will have in the future but take a look at the following photos and place a value on them (answers at the bottom of the page):

1. Just a holiday snap or something more valuable? Shot by Dmitry Medvedev in 2009, the Tobolsk Kremlin is the sole stone Kremlin in Siberia.

Tobolsk Kremlin

2: Business as usual: The Chicago Board of Trade, 1997, taken by Andreas Gursky.

Chicago Board of Trade

3: An Arab Summit? No, the Kuwait Stock Exchange, 2008, another by Andreas Gursky.

Kuwait Stock Exchange

The Independent, in a December 2014 article on Australian self-acclaimed fine-art photographer Peter Lik who had just sold a photograph taken in Antelope Canyon, Arizona for more than £4 million (the most expensive photo in history), quoted Martin Parr, the renowned British photographer: “I’ve never even heard of him. It’s pretty astonishing. I’ve looked at his work today and though he’s a very good commercial photographer who can take pictures people like, he has no standing whatever in the fine-art world that I belong to.”

Michael Hoppen, a leading British photography gallerist, says in the same article: “It’s an abomination. I remember when he sold the picture [another by Lik of a man in snow by a river. Ed.] in 2010, my jaw dropped. I thought, who could be persuaded to part with $1m for a piece of tat? You could have done it with an iPhone.” Perhaps Peter Lik did!

But it’s one thing to take photos that could end up being worth millions, it’s quite another what we do with them after they have been taken. With analogues photos we have hard copies, but digitised images are a very different matter.

I’ve commented in the past about the need to adequately protect our digital assets, and that need is getting ever greater. Apple, Google, Twitter and others have announced that they intend to introduce strong encryption measures into their products and services to safeguard against surveillance overreach by government agencies and others. This could mean that photos stored in smartphones, tablets, in cloud storage etc., are lost forever in the event the owner of the images dies.

In their 2013 report regarding individuals’ digital assets, PwC wrote that 25 percent of respondents claimed that nobody would be able to access their digital content after their deaths (because they are not doing enough to protect the digital assets they value).

But even if they are not lost, who is entitled to the images: the person inheriting the device where they are stored or someone else? It is very difficult for traditional estate planning vehicles to handle the issue of unmanaged digital assets, so it’s important for lawyers to provide the right advice to their clients so that the digital property they value is properly addressed and taken care of.

And just how valuable are the photographs above? Each sold for the following:

1: $US1,750,000

2: $US3,298,755

3: $US1,014,354

If you have a valuable digital photograph or photographs you would like us to keep safe, please do get in touch!

The digital vs physical issue – seen from a distance

IMG_1017

During the dotcom boom in the late 90s, the period when digital technologies were beginning to make their mark, it would have been inconceivable that digital property should be included in estate-planning documents. Ten years on and still the issue of digital legacies would seem absurd.

It took the fairly recent media disclosures of the difficulties parents faced with trying to access the social media accounts of their deceased children to highlight the issue of who actually owned this content.

Today, digital estate planning is essential because virtually every part of our lives, personal and professional, is impacted by this digital era. Smartphones, tablets, laptops and other digital gadgets have become reflections of our personalities, our interests and our identities, to the point that, for many, they have become the very fabric of our being.

In the recent 2014 Digital Impact Survey conducted by the Apigee Institute (developer of the intelligent API platform for digital business acceleration) and Stanford University’s Mobile Innovation Group, figures demonstrated that rising numbers of smartphone owners are becoming increasingly dependent on their devices. More than 90 percent reported that having a smartphone has altered how they connect with friends, and many claim they could not maintain a relationship with someone significant or find new friends without their smartphone.

Perhaps that might be seen as a sad reflection of our society today, but the reality is that digital is not going to decline any time soon and that we need to be taking a much more proactive view of the digital assets we’re accumulating.

Estate planning and administration practitioners should be discussing with their clients what they want to happen to their digital estate in the event they become permanently incapacitated or die. We hear a lot about parents’ anguish at not being able to access their children’s social media accounts after their death, but what if these children didn’t want their accounts exposed? What if they wanted them permanently erased when they die? It is vitally important that these wishes are included in any digital estate plan.

Digital property includes all digital assets such as music, films and photos, usernames and passwords, websites, Frequent Flyer Miles; anything that is stored digitally, also digital accounts (online banking, social media, online subscriptions etc) and digital hardware (smartphones, tablets, laptops etc).

Equally, there may also be different types of digital assets and digital devices – those personally owned and those owned by an online service provider and licensed under a terms-of-service-type agreement.

And herein lies a conundrum. Digital property may not necessarily comply with the same legal characteristics as physical property.

Take, for example the viability of the copyright regime; one area that has been considerably challenged by the advent of the Internet and digital technologies. The registration of domain names is a good case in point. The creation of the Internet has generated a new type of property with similar characteristics to trademark rights, but without inherent ties to the trademark law of any individual country. Since Cyberspace has no physical boundaries, defining rights in this new, valuable property presents a number of questions, including those relating to transferability, conditions for ownership (such as payment of registration fees), duration of ownership rights and forfeiture if there is abandonment.

Then there is the case of physical property – media such as books and music for example – that are generally protected by the first sale doctrine. Digital media, on the other hand, is universally governed by an EULA (end user license agreement). The purchase of such assets universally requires creating an account with the content provider, an account also governed by an EULA. As such, the first sale doctrine does not apply to digital media.

Whilst there continues to be considerable discussion internationally on this topic, there has been no formal legislative recognition of digital property in estate planning or estate administration, apart from some states in the US.

That said, there are clear definitions of what constitutes digital property and they are broad enough to cover the field for estate planning and administration purposes. A carefully drafted inventory, along with the rights of access and clear instructions for inheritance, will allow the digital estate to come into the legal possession and/or control of an executor or administrator, in the absence of a law or agreement to the contrary.

Even though the owners of digital property may have a written Will regarding their physical assets, the two property forms should be kept separate. Given the formality attendant to the execution of nonholographic Wills and the often rapidly changing nature and ownership of digital assets, Wills can be an awkward vehicle for digital property.

Furthermore, it remains unclear whether service providers will respect the terms of Wills to transfer ownership of digital assets.

A record with the Will (instead of in the Will) of where the digital inventory (including usernames and passwords) is being held is the best option.

The management of digital property is not difficult and there is a growing number of dedicated professionals who can help and support law firms with this process. The starting point is the realisation that digital property certainly has value and that is should be protected accordingly.

The Autobituary

images

In the past, when a loved one died a funeral service would be held followed by a burial service at the local cemetery. Family and close friends would attend both services and each year some would gather round the gravesite in remembrance. The numbers, however, would get less and less as the years passed.

Mourning practices not only vary from culture to culture but also person to person. Where there is no burial service, for example following a cremation, the mourning process is generally much shorter. With the advent of the digital era, however, a new platform is emerging for people to pay their respects.

With the increasing use of social media networks, family and friends will be able to keep the remembrance of the loved ones they have lost going in perpetuity. Facebook will now memorialise a deceased person’s account and other digital media companies are providing similar services.

And with this a new trend is emerging and is attracting a rapidly growing number of followers: Writing your own obituary in the living years.

For as long as they have been in existence newspapers have contained an obituary section that was generally edited by a staff journalist. In the majority of cases, those appearing in this section were celebrities, politicians and other well-known people.

Today, people are beginning to write their own obituaries and having these posted up online when they die. They are compiling their ‘autobituaries’ (as they have been coined) to ensure that the final words on their life are not only accurate, but also express the thanks and thoughts they want to leave behind.

One autobituary that was sent to us recently by a member struck a real chord with us. He wrote, in part, that he supported the notion that people should be able to view his body after he has died in order to pay their respects. He continued: “Unfortunately, there will be no viewing because my wife adamantly refuses my request to prop me up on the sofa with a bottle of Single Malt in my hand so I would appear to my friends in death as I did in life.”

Some of the obituaries we have received are coming from people who are terminally ill and, for them, it is an important part of coming to terms with that fact. They want to ensure they have the final say online about themselves and are remembered in the way they want to be remembered.

For us here at Planned Departure, many of these self-penned obituaries have inspired us to live our lives more fully and not to miss a moment of it.

If you would like to write your own obituary, please create an account on Planned Departure today.