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Q&A; Your money queries are answered by Peter Rutherford, senior director of Rutherford Wilkinson Ltd, independent financial advisers.

Q I am considering investing the maximum possible into an investment ISA in this financial year. Do you feel it is a good time to invest in the stock market?

A You have the opportunity to invest up to pounds 7,200 on or before April 5, 2009. Whether or not this is a good time to invest depends upon your time horizons. You must be looking at a five-year+ time period. This is because, while the stock market is cheap on all valuation metrics, it could get cheaper before it recovers. Hence giving it time is important.

Q My wife is putting pressure on me to make a will but I am reluctant as solicitors are expensive and she will get everything anyway. Am I wrong?

A The cost of a will is surprisingly cheap and well worth the expense. If you die without a will then the law makes one for you.

A spouse or civil partner will receive personal chattels and the first pounds 250,000 if there are children.

In addition they will receive a life interest in half of the remainder.

There is also the potential for parents, brothers and sisters and, ultimately the Crown, to benefit from your estate if there is no will.

I would strongly recommend making one.

Q My estate is currently well in excess of the inheritance tax threshold. Are there any schemes that will help me reduce the liability on death but give me an income while I am alive?

A The most appropriate may well be what is known as a Discounted Gift Trust which gives you an income for life but after seven years the value of the trust is outside of your estate.

There is also an immediate benefit in that the value of the gift is reduced because of your right to retain an income.

There may be other solutions and I would strongly recommend you take qualified independent financial advice before taking action.

To request a free Investor's Guide and with any questions you would like answered, please contact me at Rutherford Wilkinson Ltd, Northumbria House, 21-23 Brenkley Way, Blezard Business Park, Newcastle, NE13 6DS. Website Telephone (0191) 217-3340 or email peter.

Rutherford Wilkinson Ltd is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority.
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Mar 7, 2009
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