The Government’s free Pension Wise service was set up to help over-50s plan their retirement finances following the pension freedom reforms in 2015.
The shake-up gave older people full access to and control over their pension pots to spend, save or invest them as they wish in old age.
But many need assistance to make the best decisions, and not everyone can afford to pay a financial adviser for full personal help.
Pension Wise was therefore launched to offer all older people free guidance on the wider range of options they now have on reaching age 55.
Here, the Government explains how Pension Wise sessions work and how to prepare in advance to get the maximum benefit from an appointment:
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What happens at a Pension Wise appointment?
Although its guidance specialists won’t tell you what to do with your money, Pension Wise will help you understand what your options are.
You will get a 45-minute appointment either over the phone or face-to-face. Hundreds of places are used for appointments across the UK, so a meeting is likely to be local.
People can bring a spouse, partner, relative or friend along, but help will only be given to the one with the appointment.
Guy Opperman, Minister for Pensions and Financial Inclusion, says: ‘If you are approaching retirement and you haven’t decided what to do with your savings contact Pension Wise.
‘It won’t cost you a penny and they aren’t selling a product or have any interest besides helping you make the right choice for you.’
Five things to do before your Pension Wise meeting
1) Check for any lost savings
With people on average having 11 jobs over the course of their career, the more details you can bring to your Pension Wise appointment on your various pension pots, the more informed decisions you can make.
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But hundreds of millions of pounds in pension savings remains unclaimed. Check if you have any missing pension savings and documentation through the Government’s Pensions Tracing Service, which offers a database of more than 320,000 pension schemes here.
2) Gather your paper work
Once you have searched for your pension pots, gather together any statements you have for these pension schemes, then bring them along to your Pension Wise meeting.
3) Find out how much state pension you’re likely to get and when
Your state pension age is the earliest time you can claim it. It may be different to the age you can get a workplace or personal pension, and is worked out based on your gender and date of birth. Find out your state pension age here.
It is also essential to establish how much state pension you are in line to get as part of your retirement planning, whether you need to provide further National Insurance contributions to receive the full payouts, and if you’re eligible for additional support such as Pension Credit. Get a state pension forecast here.
4) Think about the kind of retirement you would like
If you have an idea of what you would like your retirement to look like that is great. But if not then spend 10 minutes to think through what you will need in your retirement to have an enjoyable standard of living.
This will help your Pension Wise guidance specialist to understand what your requirements are and how to plan for your future.
5) Plan ahead by budgeting
Consider how you can manage your money now and in the future. If you need help establishing a budget, visit the Money Advice Service here or call 0800 138 7777.
It’s a free and impartial service set up by the Government that offers tips, tools, calculators and a health check to help keep track of your money and to plan ahead.
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