For this week's topic, I asked Caroline Anstee, Managing Director and Founder of Financial Designers, Anstee and Co to talk us through pension options for women in the UK. 
Q: What options do women in midlife have to take control of their finances independently? 
A: If you are in your 40s and still working: Keeping up to date with their pension, having it reviewed regularly and contributing if affordable after looking at the budget. Request a state pension forecast. Have a plan and review it annually, saving as much as you can. Keep protection under review to ensure all liabilities are covered. Review any company benefits and ensure any dependents are secure. Don’t rely on anybody else looking after you in retirement. 
If you are in your 50s and still working: same as before but streamline the plan a bit more, review the plan and see if you are on track. Review whether current plans are still fit for purpose. 
If you are 50 plus without a pension of their own:  work a cashflow to see what life looks like financially, build in the state pension and see where there is a need. If time, save to fill the gap. Be aware that if you are reliant on someone else's pension, then understand the death benefits - it may be a lump sum or a reduced income. Don’t rely on an inheritance. 
If you are divorced: make a new will. Ensure that any settlement is dealt with and advice obtained. Hopefully, the settlement has left you in a good financial place so you may have a pension sharing order, or money to invest. Prepare a cashflow and see what the money has to do for you. If still working, ensure that you are in a pension and build up more benefits. Try and keep any property in your name and don’t let anybody else have access in a relationship. 
If you are widowed: ensure you have a will , discuss IHT with an adviser. If you meet a new partner consider the effect should anything happen to you and protect your family. 
If you are already struggling on a state pension: (eg: equity release or benefits etc) consider all options and take advice. There are such things as lifetime mortgages and equity release that can help. Downsizing may be an option. Preparing a cashflow and a budget can help, and have a plan. Understand what care options and benefits are available on a low income. Consider employment: there is no retirement age now. 
Q: Is there anything else you would want to add? 
A: The key to it all is make a plan and stick to it. When events come in the way (divorce, death, illness) make sure you have considered these and therefore everything should be ok, if not then take necessary action. Unfortunately a lot of women still rely on others. The increase in the state pension age hasn’t helped and very often it they want to retire before that age, savings have to be used. 
Review everything regularly and take advice! 
Of course, this is assuming we have been able to save! 
I would like to thank Caroline for answering my questions. My key take away from this is that we have to take control of our own financial future, which might mean disentangling ourselves from spouses' pensions. At least we need to be sure we understand our situation and are able to see the consequences of every scenario. 
For UK readers, Caroline and her team can be contacted via the Anstee and Co website. 

The Midlife Movement can help you embrace your middle years and beyond with less stress and more joy! How? 

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