This New Year, make it one of your resolutions to check your financial planning is on track to meet your needs and protect your family’s long-term financial security in Portugal.
While you can, of course, review your financial planning at any time to ensure it is on the right path, the New Year is the perfect prompt to do so if you have not taken a fresh look for a while.
A key reason to review your wealth management is to check it is all up to date. You need to establish whether any changes in tax rules, financial regulations or your own personal circumstances mean you should adjust your arrangements. However, to ensure everything is suitable for your life in Portugal, as well as your needs and goals, your review needs to go beyond this.
The bigger picture
Many people only consider segments of their finances at a time. For example, they may have bought shares in companies they like or invested in funds recommended by an adviser years ago. They may speak to a tax accountant about Portuguese taxation and tax planning opportunities. Then they speak to a lawyer about setting up a Portuguese will. At some point, they look at their pension funds and try and work out how best to access their retirement savings.
For a truly effective review, and to ensure it is suitable for your life in Portugal, consider how your tax planning, investments, pensions and estate planning work together. Here are some key considerations.
Residency and taxation
You should first make sure you know where you are resident for tax purposes, especially if you are new to Portugal or spend time in two countries. You then want to structure your investments and wealth in the most suitable way to minimise taxation – in Portugal, the UK and wherever you have financial interests – in a way that still meets all your obligations.
Regardless of how effective your tax planning in the UK was, you pretty much need to start afresh in Portugal. What was tax-efficient in the UK is unlikely to be tax-efficient here. Make sure you explore the compliant opportunities available in Portugal to establish what would work for your situation and aims, and how much tax you could potentially save.
Do not leave estate planning to the final stage of financial planning. It is vital to review your estate planning when living in Portugal, as its succession regime works very differently to the UK.
Are you aware, for example, that Portugal’s ‘forced heirship’ rules could automatically pass a significant proportion of your worldwide estate to your direct family, whatever your intentions? This can have unwelcome consequences for certain families unless you plan ahead. You can specify in your will for the EU regulation ‘Brussels IV’ to apply relevant British law to your estate instead, but take care to understand your options and any tax implications.
Financial structuring for life in Portugal
Perhaps the key rule for financial planning is that it must be specifically structured around your personal circumstances – your lifestyle today and plans for the future, family situation, income requirements, objectives, time horizon and risk tolerance.
If you don’t already have a financial plan in place for Portugal, or you haven’t reviewed your savings and investments recently, you need to check they are suitable for you today and the current economic climate. Do they have the right balance of risk and return? Do you have adequate diversification? Can they provide income without risking the capital? Could you consolidate shares and funds so they are easier to manage?
At the same time, consider your tax liabilities on investment income and gains, and whether you could take advantage of tax-efficient arrangements as a resident of Portugal. Also, how will these savings be passed to your heirs? What inheritance taxes will they have to pay? Can the funds be passed on directly or will there be a lengthy probate process?
And when deciding what to do with your pensions, take care to explore all your options to establish the most suitable approach for you with regulated advice.
Pulling everything together
Every family is different. Your strategic financial planning must be carefully designed for you. All the various aspects should work cohesively together to create an overall wealth management plan that provides long-term financial security for yourself and achieves your wishes for your heirs.
For peace of mind that you have covered everything, and that making one financial decision will not have unexpected consequences on another, take specialist, cross-border advice.
Ultimately, spending time on a financial health-check now can help ensure you and your family are in the best financial position to enjoy a prosperous 2022 and beyond.
All advice received from Blevins Franks is personalised and provided in writing. This article, however, should not be construed as providing any personalised taxation and/or investment advice.
Keep up to date on the financial issues that may affect you on the Blevins Franks news page at www.blevinsfranks.com
By Dan Henderson
Dan Henderson is a Partner of Blevins Franks in Portugal. A highly experienced financial adviser, he holds the Diploma in Financial Planning and advanced qualifications in pensions and investment planning from the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII). | www.blevinsfranks.com