Few subjects are more confusing for British expats than the subject of “domicile and residency” Whilst it may be tempting to ignore these terms, they have a huge impact on your financial plan as a British person living abroad – especially regarding your tax liability. Below, our Murcia financial planners here at Scottsdale offer a short guide to discerning the main differences between domicile and residency. We include some ideas about how to navigate the rules confidently in light of your unique financial goals and situation as an expat.
Choosing the right financial adviser is a very important decision. Whilst it is a very positive step to work with an experienced professional, the selection process has its risks. You need to find the right adviser for your needs. This is especially true for British expats living in a country like Spain, where there can be added complexities in the financial planning process due to different cultures, tax laws and language barriers.
Britain and Spain are two fascinating countries. One of the benefits of being a UK expat in Murcia, Alicante or other Spanish regions is that you can witness the two cultures close up. Often, there are funny moments when mistranslations and innocent misunderstandings happen. Recounting some of the key similarities and differences between Britain and Spain can be entertaining but also informative.
One of the challenges facing many British expats is how to start and build a pension. Living overseas can make it more difficult to access many of the benefits available to those living in the UK (e.g. tax relief on pension contributions, which becomes subject to the “Five Year Rule” once someone becomes a non-resident).
According to the NHS, around one-quarter of British adults aged over 65 need help with daily tasks – whether from paid professionals or unpaid volunteers (e.g. family members). In England alone, 10m people across all age groups are affected by social care at a given time, with £22bn spent by local authorities between 2021 and 2022 on adult care alone.
One of the great benefits of living in the UK is that an individual can access their pension benefits from age 55 and withdraw up to 25% as a tax-free lump sum (in 2023-24). However, what happens if you move abroad? Do you still enjoy the same tax benefits?
If you are a British expat in Spain (or elsewhere abroad), you may have heard the word “QROPS” when considering pension planning. QROPS is shorthand for “Qualified Overseas Recognised Pension Scheme” and is commonly used to refer to an overseas pension scheme which could be a suitable destination for a pension transfer.
Divorce is, by nature, a stressful and complicated time for everyone involved. For British expats, however, the process can be even more difficult. You may need to navigate a foreign legal system, language barriers and difficult questions about asset division and where you will both live. This is a vast and sensitive topic, but it is important to have a robust financial plan which can help to carry you through an expat divorce if this ever happens to you.
Receiving an inheritance lump sum can bring a lot of mixed emotions. It can be satisfying – even exhilarating – to suddenly get more money in your account. However, an inheritance can also be a painful reminder of the loved one you have lost. It is not always easy to make rational decisions at a time of high emotions. Therefore, it helps to be ready with an inheritance “contingency plan” – where you decide, ahead of time, how you might use a lump sum if it ever arrives.
If you are reading this and planning (or hoping) to get married, then congratulations! There is a lot of preparation to do, especially for the big day. Yet tying the knot also brings a lot of financial planning considerations to the table. It is important to prepare for these with your eyes open. This is especially true for British expats marrying someone from abroad. The culture, tax laws and property rights associated with your (imminent) spouse may be vastly different from those in the UK.