Options: Getting the best results out of a windfall

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The Independent Online
A MARRIED couple aged 61 and 67 have two endowment policies about to mature, giving them a pounds 10,000 windfall. They are managing on their pension of pounds 554 a month but would like to use the money to boost their income without jeopardising the capital.

They want to trade down to a smaller house which will give them another pounds 20,000 to pounds 40,000. The problem is how to invest the pounds 10,000 effectively.

Eliminating risk of losing capital means avoiding the stock market. This could involve investing in a building society or National Savings Granny Bonds. Highest rate of interest on these accounts is between 7 and 7.5 per cent.

For tax-efficiency you should ensure that the investments are in the name of the person who has not used up his or her personal allowances.

It might be better to invest the money in a building society account with a short-term fixed rate. Interest rates are more likely to rise than fall and societies tend to react more quickly than National Savings. If you are happy with the income you are getting from your pension, you could risk investing the extra pounds 60 a month in a unit trust personal equity plan.

The minimum that can be invested in these schemes is usually about pounds 50 a month. The initial charge is in many cases 5 to 6 per cent - the same as investing in the trust itself - so the fund has to grow by at least that amount before it becomes worthwhile.

By saving in a PEP for a few years, providing the fund manager is handling the money well, it will be possible to build up a lump sum that could be added to the capital held on deposit or used for a lump sum PEP from which income can be drawn. Money invested in a PEP is not free from risk.

When the house is sold, releasing the cash, the world equity market may be entirely different. This would perhaps be the point to take on a greater degree of risk in a broad range of investments and deposit-based savings.

FACT FILE

Money pounds acts is a monthly guide to rates on savings accounts, current accounts, overdrafts, loans, credit cards and mortgages, including SAYE and Tessas. Annual subscription pounds 38.50. Single issues can be ordered for pounds 4.24 including p&p. Telephone orders using plastic card 0692 500665, or write to Money pounds acts, Laundry Loke, North Walsham, Norfolk, NR28 0BD.

A free information pack on PEPs plus a list of companies providing them is available from the Association of Unit Trusts hotline (081 207 1361), open seven days a week 8am-11pm.

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