How to make the most of your pension

Take a look at our checklist to see how we could help you

The closer you get to retirement, the greater the need to preserve your savings and ensure they will last all through your retirement. In addition, you’ll need to consider whether you need to make changes to your investments as you approach retirement.

With less than five years to go before retirement, there is still a lot you could do to maximise your eventual pension income. Take a look at our checklist to see how we could help you make the most of your pension pot.

Checklist in the run-up to your retirement

Request up-to-date statements for your personal and company pensions

Get an up-to-date state pension forecast at direct.gov.uk

Trace any lost pensions through the Pension Tracing Service at direct.gov.uk

Include any investments and savings when assessing your retirement income

Seek professional financial advice if there’s a significant shortfall, as delaying or phasing retirement could be an option

Reduce any potential investment risk to protect your pension from any downturns in the stock market as you approach retirement

If possible, augment your pension by increasing your contributions and/or adding lump sum payments

Take advantage of any unused pension tax allowance. Current rules allow you to carry unused allowances forward for three years

Think about whether you want to take your pension as an annuity or through income drawdown

If you want to take an annuity, decide which type. An annuity can, for example, increase by a set percentage or be linked to the rate of inflation

Look at impaired life annuities if you have any serious health issues

If appropriate, consider consolidating your pension or pensions to a Self-Invested
Personal Pension (SIPP) if you want to take income drawdown

Consider whether you want to take 25 per cent of your pension pot as a tax-free lump sum and think about how you might use this money

Write a will or review any existing will you have in place

Check what will happen to your pension if you die

Assess the value of your estate for inheritance tax (IHT) purposes and consider ways to reduce a potential liability

Seek professional financial advice if the value of your estate is significantly higher than the nil rate IHT band (currently £325,000) or your financial affairs are complicated ν

All figures relate to the 2012/13 tax year. A pension is a long-term investment, and the fund value may fluctuate and can go down. Your eventual income may depend upon the size of the fund at retirement, future interest rates and tax legislation. The Financial Services Authority does not regulate estate planning, wills or trusts.

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