Protecting Your Legacy

Last Wednesday (23rd September, 2015) saw our Team gather together with an audience of around 40 guests at Quorn Country Hotel to consider how to ‘Protect your Legacy’.

Over the course of the morning Nelissa explained why it’s so important to make a Will, Rebecca told us how Inheritance Tax works, how much you’re likely to pay, and various ideas for how to avoid it.

Richard went on to explain how valuable tax reliefs can help reduce your IHT bill, especially in the area of Business Property Relief. Dave went on to cover a range of planning possibilities using trusts to reduce your tax whilst still keeping control over your cash.

We asked the attendees how useful they found the Seminar, and the praise was high. They told us that the morning had been clear and informative, and had given them a new insight into planning for the future. There was also a wide appreciation that everyone’s circumstances are different, and that there is no single solution that works for everyone. You can view some of their comments in this short video.

The final session of the morning gathered a number of the ideas together in the form of a ‘real-life’ case study, the story of one particular Chesterton House client with a long relationship with the firm. Richard and Rebecca explained how, using a combination of financial planning, investing and legal strategies it had been possible to reduce this couple’s eventual tax bill to a tiny fraction of the amount that would have been payable without taking any action, whilst still ensuring that there were ample funds to pay for the care and support that was required for several years towards the end of their lives.

The case study was a great example of how a long-term professional relationship, focused on a person’s needs, goals and objectives, implemented and adjusted regularly over the years as those needs and circumstances change, can bring not only great peace of mind but also real financial benefit. It also highlighted the advantage of financial, legal and accounting professionals working together to get the best outcome for clients – a hallmark of our service at Chesterton House.

If these are topics in which you have an interest, you can start by having a word with our Team. They would be very pleased to discuss your situation with you.

Here Comes The Sun!

Standing in a large field wearing steel toe-capped boots in a chilly September wind isn’t our usual idea of Chesterton House-style hospitality, but it’s what we and around 30 clients and friends were doing this week. So what was it that had captured our interest?

We were guests of Foresight Investment group, owners of one of the UK’s largest solar energy farms, which happens to be located just a few minutes drive from our offices near the village of Wymeswold.

In fact it wasn’t until towards the end of the visit when the site manager invited our party to climb the small hill that overlooks the former airfield site of the farm that we fully appreciated the scale of this silent power station. Despite being home to an amazing 140,000 solar panels over a 190 acre area, the development is unobtrusive from the adjacent roads and I suspect that few local residents appreciate its scale either.

Looking out over a sea of solar panels

We had earlier been welcomed to the site by Nick Morgan of Foresight, and he had explained the investment merits of this form of energy production, with its stable and highly predictable revenue stream. Richard Urwin, Investment Director at Chesterton House, told the assembled group about the benefits arising from an index-linked income stream and why this farm had been included in our clients’ investment portfolios.

Site manager Arnoud Klaren then went on to share details of the site, how it was constructed, and how it harvests energy from the sun to generate a constant stream of electricity for the National Grid. With a potential output of 34 MW of electricity, the site produces enough energy to power the equivalent of 10,000 homes.

Except, of course, when there is no sun, which remained conspicuous by its absence. The grey skies got greyer, the wind got colder, and the boots got less comfortable as we stood and listened. We were pleased to hear that the panels still generate power even under the very darkest of daylight skies, but we were denied the opportunity to hear the inverter – a large caravan size metal box that turns the solar direct current into the alternating variety required by the grid – really sizzle, as Arnoud assured us it does when the sun shines bright.

It was obvious that the unseasonal chill hadn’t dimmed everyone’s enjoyment of the event, however. Arnoud fielded a wide range of questions with clear and enthusiastic answers, and we all learned a great deal about both the practicalities and problems of modern ‘clean’ energy generation as well as the financial implications involved.

As the world focuses on reducing its carbon emissions this promises to be one area that is ripe for continuing innovation. An obvious problem with solar-generated energy is what happens at night, and Arnoud described some of the ideas that are being developed to be able to create a stable energy stream, from the use of batteries to store surplus power, to using lakes that use surplus power to raise water in daytime allowing it to fall and generate hydroelectric power as required overnight. As the number of alternative energy generators increases, with consequent falls in installation costs, it becomes more economic to investigate these ideas and create workable solutions. Watch this space!

As the cool breeze continued we were pleased to retire to the Windmill Inn in Wymeswold which provided us with an excellent buffet lunch in their welcoming warm surroundings. The comments we received then and since confirmed that everyone had found this an enjoyable and very informative way to spend a morning.

We’re grateful to Foresight for this opportunity, which we may repeat in the spring. If you’re a client of Chesterton House, or you’re interested in the possibilities of using solar power in your portfolio, and you’d like to come along next time please drop Jenny a line at and she’ll get in touch when we’ve fixed something up.

And let’s hope that next time the sun comes out. I would love to hear that inverter sizzle!


Who Needs A Suntan Anyway?

The rain patters down on the tonneau cover as we sit watching hardy narrowboaters gliding past through the deluge.

It’s the second time in two weeks that we’ve been afloat on the canals. Last week we hired a 67 footer to navigate the delightful Kennet & Avon waterway from Bath to Devizes and back, and this weekend we’re visiting Dave and Ju on their own boat near Leighton Buzzard on the Grand Union.

The weather pattern has been similar on both trips, with warm and sunny August days transposed with days of torrential rain which makes lock working somewhat less attractive. But hey, this is England and who needs a suntan anyway?

Especially when you’re enjoying the pleasures of the English waterways.

Kennet & Avon Canal

Kennet & Avon Canal

I’ve had a fascination with our canal system ever since Sue introduced me to it in the mid 1970’s. A journey by narrow boat offers a unique and highly intimate perspective on our countryside, towns and cities, as well as a window into our recent industrial past.

The rise, fall and regeneration of this man-made network of communication is the story of the industrial revolution and the subsequent technological advances that rendered canals redundant. The engineering prowess of the early canal pioneers is there for all to see in structures such as the Dundas Aqueduct a few miles out from Bath, with it’s elegant solution to spanning the River Avon below. But it is also testament to the sheer physical efforts of the thousands of navigators – ‘navvies’ as they became known – who formed the pathways for the canals to run on  with their bare hands. Embankments, cuttings, bridges and tunnels were created without the benefit of the huge earthmoving machines that seem to construct modern motorways with hardly a human to be seen.

The accumulation of knowledge was rapid as canal-building technology improved. The early ‘contour’ canals followed the lie of the land, resulting in stretches such as the South Oxford taking it’s leisurely, meandering path from Coventry down towards the Thames. In one place, at Wormleighton, a mile long sweeping bend brings the cut within  a few yards of itself as it seeks to avoid the need to bridge the rolling hills and hollows of the land.

As the canals became more profitable and those profits rose with rapid journey times, later engineers such as Thomas Telford found ways to forge straight through the countryside, compensating for the contours with huge earthworks and dramatic structures, of which the  most striking example has to be the amazing Pontcysyllte Aqueduct near Llangollen.

Of course, like any arterial route, the joy is in the travelling of it, and the canals bring such joy in spades. The locks, an  early engineering solution to hills, have matured into quaint and picturesque places of beauty, activity and camaraderie. Boaters and bystanders alike gather at the side of locks, still inspired by the cleverness of it all, and sharing a friendly acknowledgement and often an interesting anecdote.

If you enjoy this country, are happy to be outside, and relish the opportunity to explore, try taking a trip on a narrow boat.

There’s just one thing. Make sure you take your raincoat.