My wife and I are 80 years old and have five grandchildren, all in their 20s and unmarried.
Since their births we have been saving regularly for all of them and now have a total of £150,000 to be divided equally between them.
We have left this money in our wills, but think we should divide it out now to show our love for them rather than after our funerals. What advice would you give?
J. and M. B., London.
Inheritance issue: A reader is looking for advice on giving his five grandchildren a £150,000 gift
What thoughtful grandparents you are. I am sure your grandchildren know how much you love them, even without the benefit of this gift.
I won’t go into whether you can afford to give this money to them because this is clearly a long-term plan.
Tax-wise it won’t make an iota of difference to them whether you make the gift now or later.
It may affect inheritance tax on your estate because if you live for seven years after making the gift then it will drop out of your estate.
If you both die sooner, then that £150,000 will be deducted from your inheritance tax nil-rate band, which is £325,000 each (a total of £650,000).
If you are property owners and your home is left to direct descendants, then you have up to £175,000 of extra residence allowance each (depending on the property’s value) raising the allowance to £1 million between you.
One point to consider is whether your grandchildren would put this money to good use.
You may, for example, wish to stipulate that it is put aside as a home deposit rather than being splurged on something frivolous.
Explain to them how long you have been saving this money and how important it is to you that they use it wisely.
Also, check whether they are receiving benefits — because coming into a lump sum could have an effect on these.
On a similar issue, I’m assuming the money is in your hands rather than held in trust for your grandchildren. So if you hold on to it and both need care later in life, it could disappear into local authority coffers.
My feeling is, if you think they are ready, go ahead. You’ve saved this money and you should get to see them enjoy it. Don’t forget to update your will or they could end up getting an extra gift.
You have YOUR say
Every week Money Mail receives hundreds of your letters and emails about our stories.
Here are some on our investigation into how holidaymakers are being bullied into paying thousands of pounds for trips that are unlikely to go ahead.
If travel operators keep hold of customers’ money, then they should be regulated by the financial watchdog. These firms seem to just do whatever they want.
G. D., Howden, E. Yorks.
I am obviously not going to fly out for a holiday if I have to self-isolate for 14 days when I arrive there.
Fortunately, I paid for a flexible ticket, so I can just move the whole booking to next year.
T. C., Solihull, Warks.
I am sure this will change insurance policies in the future. Travel insurance and potentially even life insurance policyholders will be charged higher premiums and there will be exemptions for anything related to a virus.
J. W., Plymouth, Devon.
I feel very sorry for everybody who is waiting for a refund. Re-booking is not an option for many people, including those who may have lost their jobs.
Let’s hope people remember which holiday companies treated them well.
A. L., Rogate, W. Sussex.
I am trying to get refunds for eight flights, two hotel bookings and a cruise. I can’t re-book next year as I already have other holidays in the diary. I know I will end up losing a lot of money.
T. Y., Leicester.
We were due to fly next month and I told my partner not to pay the full deposit when it was due.
However he did, but the airline gave us a cash refund. It depends on the company’s policy.
T. F., by email.
I had a trip booked for December and thought it was wise to cancel or delay, but I was told I would be charged a fee worth 60 per cent of total cost if I did.
F. D., Nottingham.
In January 2017 I was contacted by a phone broker who offered to move my contract from Vodafone. They promised to settle any fee with Vodafone.
In February this year a debt collection firm working for Vodafone demanded a £743 outstanding cancellation fee.
I tried to contact the phone broker but they had gone into voluntary liquidation. Another broker with a different name is operating from the same offices and has the same directors.
I have written to Vodafone and informed the Ombudsman, but appear to owe the money.
S. B., Worcestershire.
Basically, you were conned by a fly-by-night operation. There are lessons here for others, the most important being: don’t do business with unknown firms that phone you up.
If you want to move a utility contract, do your own research and do it direct. Or use a legitimate household-name switching firm such as switch.which.co.uk, Uswitch or moneysupermarket.
Cancel your existing contract personally. Some operators may offer to do this, but keep evidence and check bills and your bank statements.
Don’t cancel the direct debit until your old provider has had a chance to collect its final payment.
Vodafone has offered a 20 per cent bill reduction, reducing your debt to around £600. That’s the best I can do.
I suggest you treat this as a hard lesson learnt. But do pass details of your experience to your local Trading Standards office.
Straight to the point
A few weeks after celebrating my 74th birthday at a hotel restaurant I was sent a £60 parking fine.
My wife has a Blue Badge. The hotel says it requested for the fine to be cancelled, but now I can’t get through to check.
B. P., Birmingham.
Good news — the fine has been cancelled. The hotel recently changed its parking system which requires motorists with Blue Badges to register at reception.
I saw a reader had struggled to get the expiry date on a M&S credit note extended despite not being able to use it due to the pandemic.
I’m having the same problem and can’t get through on the phone.
M. Warner., Horsmonden, Kent.
You have several credit notes. M&S has exchanged one worth £24.91 that was due to expire very soon for a gift card.
You can use this in store or online at any point over the next two years. The others, valued at £72, do not expire until later in the year.
If you find you can still not get to a shop then, M&S will change these for gift cards, too.
I ordered a dishwasher from Currys PC World for my new home in March 2018. But my house purchase fell through so I had to change the delivery details.
Despite being assured this wouldn’t be a problem, the dishwasher was sent to the old address; and when it arrived at the right one, it flooded the kitchen.
The replacement was also faulty and I am still without a working dishwasher.
L.J., Isle of Wight.
Currys has apologised for the time it took to fix the issue and has provided a refund.
After arranging to stay in a holiday apartment in Spain my booking was cancelled shortly before I was due to travel because there was no room.
Booking.com offered alternative accommodation, but it cost £34.51 more.
I paid, as there were no other options at such short notice, but now think I should be refunded the difference.
M. F., by email.
Booking.com had already offered you €25 (£22) in compensation, but following my involvement it has now also agree to pay the £34.51 difference in cost.
I have been trying to obtain a refund from Avanti West Coast for tickets to Penrith. I emailed and was told to obtain a refund from where I bought them, which was London Euston.
The country is in lockdown and I am over 70, so cannot travel by train from St Albans to Euston. I have tried the online refund form, but the page just flickers so I cannot complete it.
There were three of us meant to be travelling: myself, my disabled adult son and a carer. The total cost was £368.40.
R. H., St Albans.
How utterly absurd to suggest a person in the vulnerable category should board a train to return to Euston for a refund.
I took a look at the refund section on Avanti’s website. The problem seems to be that it is only offering refunds on stations where they sell tickets.
Euston does not appear in the drop-down menu, hence the screen going crazy. You also tried to phone Euston to no avail.
Avanti has sent you a cheque for the refund.
Incidentally, you tell me that the reason for buying the tickets in person is that when you previously booked online, the complications with buying for you, a carer and your son with a variety of railcards meant you were allocated two seats in one carriage and one in another.
This is something else train operators need to look at.
- Write to Tony Hazell at Ask Tony, Money Mail, Northcliffe House, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TT or email firstname.lastname@example.org — please include your daytime phone number, postal address and a separate note addressed to the offending organisation giving them permission to talk to Tony Hazell. We regret we cannot reply to individual letters. Please do not send original documents as we cannot take responsibility for them. No legal responsibility can be accepted by the Daily Mail for answers given.
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