What you need to know about the Lifetime ISA

5 April 2017

What you need to know about the Lifetime ISA

Ollie Smyth, Financial Adviser at Walker Crips Wealth Management

Like so many savings vehicles, the LISA will be useful for many but not for all. The great appeal is the government’s pledge to top up investments by 25%, but advisers need to ensure clients are fully aware of the product’s restrictive conditions before making a commitment.

These may include:

- Potential penalties for withdrawing funds outside strict conditions

- Inheritance Tax implications

- In some circumstances, negligible benefits over effective pension planning

As a retirement planning tool, the LISA could be viewed as a supplement to pensions, but certainly not a replacement. Higher and additional rate taxpayers are still able to claim further relief via pension contributions over the 25% top-up available within a LISA. Additionally, pension savings can be accessed from age 55 rather than having to wait until age 60 with a LISA.

The LISA remains subject to normal ISA rules and would be included in any Estate calculations for Inheritance Tax, unlike pensions. Though pension death benefits do fall under the remit of income tax should death occur after 75 years of age, effective intergenerational planning can effectively mitigate this to a large extent.

Funds from LISAs must also be drawn from one of two scenarios to avoid penalties which undermine the effectiveness of the vehicle. The funds must be used to help buy a first home, up to a value of £450,000, or funds can be withdrawn from age 60. If you have funds remaining from the house purchase within the LISA, these may be rolled over until age 60.

Withdrawing funds outside of these two scenarios will result in an encashment penalty of 25% on the funds drawn. Although this means that funds are accessible if required, advisers must be reasonably assured that clients will draw from the LISA for the prescribed usage to achieve the full benefit.

That being said, the LISA does have a significant advantage over pension funds in that drawings, provided they meet with the previously mentioned criteria, do not attract income or capital gains tax which would create a very tax-efficient pool of savings in retirement. For those able to contribute to both a pension and a LISA as part of their retirement plan, the advantages are clear.

Parents looking to save for their children may wish to use their annual gift exemption of £3,000 to fund a LISA for both intergenerational planning and to give them a head-start.

As a result, those seeking advice on a LISA purchase should be made fully aware of the advantages and drawbacks of the product by their adviser before committing.

What you need to know about the Lifetime ISA

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Investors should be aware that past performance is not a reliable indicator of future results and that the price of shares and other investments, may fall as well as rise and the amount realised may be less than the original sum invested.

Walker Crips Group plc (Old Change House, 128 Queen Victoria Street, London EC4V 4BJ), registered in England, registered number 1432059, incorporates the following companies which are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority: Walker Crips Investment Management Limited registered in England number 4774117 member of the London Stock Exchange, Walker Crips Wealth Management Limited registered in England number 3790291, Ebor Trustees Limited registered in England number 3514268, Barker Poland Asset Management LLP registered in England and Wales number OC341149.