Later Life Planning – planning all the way through life!

By April 18, 2024Financial Planning

The last 25 years have changed the way we live. Now we can access information instantly, share experiences with people across the world, and reap the benefits of rapid technological change. These benefits include increased living standards and healthcare, and longer life spans. A longer life means your pensions and any other investment income in retirement have to last for longer; maintaining financial planning advice is more vital than ever to ensure you don’t outlive your income; and families may now stretch across more than three generations, making estate planning more of a challenge.

Financial planning for later life is, in many respects, the same as planning at earlier life stages. However, the emphasis will often change. For example, income will normally become a more important focus of investment than growth and planning for inheritance tax and potential care fees come to the fore.

Setting your goals

The first step in creating any plan is to decide what you want to achieve. There is no such thing as a standard, one-size-fits all solution – you need a personal plan designed around your goals. For example:

  • What should the balance be between maintaining your lifestyle and preserving what you pass on to your family?
  • Do you wish to stay living where you are today? Ultimately you may have no choice but to move to residential or nursing care, but in-home care can defer that transfer – albeit at a cost.
  • If you are still working, perhaps part time, how long will you continue to do so before fully retiring?
  • Are you prepared to rely solely on the NHS for your healthcare?

Careful income planning can be key to making the most of later life. Money concerns are never welcome, particularly if the opportunity to earn your way out of them is no longer open to you.

The transition from work to retirement is now often a gradual process. You might not want the instant change to 100% leisure time. Alternatively, you may need to earn extra income to cover a pension or other shortfall, perhaps because of the continuing increases in state pension age. Whatever your reason, national statistics show that men and women still work beyond their state retirement age. However, it is unwise to assume that you can rely on continued earnings for a long period of time. Factors such as your or your partner’s health, your enthusiasm, and the type of work you’re engaged in could mean you have to stop work at some point. If you think you will have to continue working indefinitely, then your non-retirement plans almost certainly need a serious review!

The role of pensions

Pensions, both state and private, are usually the main source of income in later life. For growing numbers of people, some pension income will be via income drawdown, rather than the traditional pension annuity. The drawdown approach offers flexibility suited to gradual retirement, but ongoing management is vital. The level of withdrawals needs regular review: taking too much from a fund can mean you outlive your pension, whereas the opposite could mean a lower than desired standard of living, thereby building up funds that your children, grandchildren or chosen benefactors will ultimately benefit from.

Investment management

What you require from your investments could alter over time and investment horizons naturally tend to shorten as you get older. For example, you may wish to increase the emphasis on security of income rather than income growth. To maintain a coherent approach, it is important to review your investments as a single portfolio, rather than as compartmentalised direct holdings, ISAs, life policies and pensions.


Income and tax sometimes seem inseparable, but this need not be the case. The flexible pension regime created ways to draw regular payments which are not fully taxed as income or are even tax free. Other investment structures can produce similar results if you think of your income requirement as a series of regular payments. For couples, tax savings can sometimes be achieved by simply rearranging who owns investments. The aim is to maximise use of an individual’s allowances and tax bands.

Long Term Care

Financial planning for social care is a highly complex area requiring specialist expertise. It had been made more complicated by the fact that, until September 2021, there had been no long-term plan for funding social care in England. Following new legislation, from October 2025 in England there will be an index-linked £86,000 cap on the total personal care costs (which excludes accommodation costs) that must be paid by an individual and capital limits will be raised for means-tested contributions, with the upper limit moving to £100,000.

Planning the future of your estate

You should ask yourself, what do you want to happen to your estate? That question affects more than inheritance tax (IHT) planning. Your estate and IHT are inextricably linked, but the most IHT efficient planning may not be ‘family efficient’ estate planning.

Protecting assets during your lifetime

The current and, to a lesser extent, future funding rules for long-term care can result in your estate being whittled down to pay care home fees. The average stay in a residential care home in England is around 30 months and average fees can exceed £1,200 a week in some parts of the UK. It may be possible to plan your affairs to limit the cost, but this is an area where in-depth knowledge is vital, and many dangerous myths exist – such as ‘just give it all away first’. To mitigate IHT, you should consider not only your will, but also any opportunities you have to make lifetime gifts. Today’s IHT regime has a favourable treatment for lifetime gifts. For example, outright gifts made more than seven years before death are completely free of IHT, as are regular gifts, regardless of size, when made out of income, provided that they do not reduce your standard of living.


Trusts have long been used as a way of controlling lifetime gifts or legacies after they have been made. For example, a trust could be used to provide income from a portfolio for a surviving spouse, while also ensuring capital passes to children from a previous marriage when the surviving spouse dies. Trusts have often been associated with tax planning, but over the years legislation has been tightened. Now, most trusts are subject to the highest rates of income tax and capital gains tax, meaning that they can be disadvantageous from a tax viewpoint. Nevertheless, trusts continue to have a role to play, particularly when the would-be recipients of a gift or legacy are minor children or young adults.

Generation skipping

A five-generation family is a real possibility today, thanks to increased life expectancies. This can create some difficult estate planning decisions. Purely from an IHT viewpoint, the best option is to pass assets straight to the youngest generation, avoiding the tax that might otherwise be incurred on the trickle down through generations. However, the generations overlooked by such a strategy may be more in need of funds than their children or grandchildren. There might even be an expectation from the older generation of support with their care costs. As with so many other areas of later life planning, compromises may be necessary and sound advice essential.

How we can help

Later Life planning can be complicated with conflicting goals and uncertain timings. However, our experienced financial planners can provide advice on the following areas, so you are not alone. Please do get in touch if you wish to discuss any of these in more detail:

  • IHT and estate planning
  • Managing your pension arrangements
  • Your options for funding long-term care
  • Identifying opportunities to reduce your income tax bill
  • Managing your investments, including pension assets
  • The costs of downsizing and the alternatives available to you.