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NAPF’s top tips on new pension freedoms

Only one in three of the people who will be eligible to use the pension freedoms in the next five years currently feel very confident about making their own financial decisions, shows research by the National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF). 

So, to help savers the NAPF today (Wednesday) outlined three top tips for savers to bear in mind when thinking about how to use the new pension freedoms that will be available from 6 April 2015. Joanne Segars, Chief Executive, NAPF, commented: “These reforms announced just over one year ago have radically changed the options savers have about how they can access their retirement savings. It’s clear that savers feel positively about the reforms, but our research also tells us that only one in three of the people who will be eligible to use the pension freedoms in the next five years currently feel very confident about making their own financial decisions. We want to help savers make the most of the opportunities these reforms present. So we’ve outlined three guiding principles for savers and these are – be informed, be realistic and take your time.”

Be informed – gather a full understanding of your financial situation:

Don’t forget your State pension entitlement. If you are aged 55 or older you can get an estimate from the Government’s new service

Track down any pensions you may have lost or forgotten about. The Pensions Tracing Service can help with this

Get an up to date value of the pensions you knowyou have by talking to your employer, workplace pension scheme or pension provider. Work out the value of any other savings you may have. If you own your own home think about whether you plan to stay there, down-size or use the equity in the property in some way.

If you have a spouse or partner, make sure you get the full picture for both of you.  You may also want to talk with your wider family about your plans.

Remember money you take from your pension pot is treated as income and can be taxed accordingly. Look out for the Government’s new impartial guidance service, Pension wise, for help with understanding what you can do with your pension pot. You’ll be able to access Pension wise online, by phone or face to face.

Be realistic – think long-term as these decisions will affect your income for the rest of your life:

Consider how much longer you will work. And whether it will be full-time, part-time or if health problems may stop you working altogether. Bear in mind you may live much longer than you expect and what you would do if you required long-term care. Your money will have to last your lifetime and cover any inflation during that time. Assess your likely costs in retirement and how you will meet them. As well as everyday living costs don’t forget any debts you may have. Think about your family, especially any dependents you may need to provide for. If you don’t already have one, make a will. If you have a will, consider whether it needs updating in light of your plans or changing circumstances.

Take your time – 6 April is the start not the deadline:

Just because the new freedoms start on 6 April it doesn’t mean you have to act immediately. Millions of people will have a right to book an appointment with Pension wise from April. You may want to wait until any initial queues have died down or use the online service. These reforms have had to be implemented very quickly, so don’t expect to see full flexibility and lots of choice by 6 April. You may want to wait until there’s more choice and the market has matured a little. 

Be scam savvy:

If someone is hurrying you to sign up for something that sounds too good to be true – it probably is. The Pensions Regulator website will give you some tips on how to spot a scam

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