How to Use a Lifetime ISA
Lifetime ISAs (LISAs) are not only a tax-efficient account to save your money, but you can also benefit from a 25% bonus on top of what you save. While there are plenty of benefits to using a Lifetime ISA, there are specific rules when it comes to using a Lifetime ISA that you should be aware of before applying for one.
In this article, we take a look at what you can use your LISA funds for and how to approach each situation in the right way to avoid any potential charges.
How do I use a Lifetime ISA?
You can use it to save up money that you plan to use to purchase your first home or build up for your retirement. The rules for how you use a LISA will be different depending on what you’re saving for. Regardless, you can still put away £4,000 each year and receive a 25% tax-free bonus from the government – that’s a free £25 for every £100 you save.
While the LISA is designed for first-time buyers and those saving for retirement, you may be hit with some hefty charges if you go about withdrawing your money in the wrong way. Not only would you lose your 25% bonus, but you’d also get hit with a 25% early withdrawal charge, so you’d walk away with less than you’d put in.
To find out how you can access and use your funds in the correct manner, see our sections below.
Buying your first home
To use a Lifetime ISA to buy your first home with, the property must be worth less than £450,000. You must be a UK resident who has never owned a property before, even if you inherited a house and sold it on. If you’re buying with a partner who also has a LISA, you can combine them to put down a larger deposit.
Be aware that you shouldn’t withdraw the funds in your Lifetime ISA yourself – your savings should stay in the account until your solicitor or conveyancer requests them.
In order to use your Lifetime ISA funds without triggering the 25% early withdrawal charge, you’ll likely have to take the following steps:
- Find out how much you could afford to borrow from a mortgage provider
- Request an Agreement in Principle
- Find a property to purchase and show proof of your Agreement in Principle to the estate agent
- You can now request to release the money from your LISA
- Fill out an Investor Declaration form and give it to your conveyancer
- Your conveyancer will then complete and Conveyancer Declaration form and submit the documentation to your mortgage provider
- After your mortgage provider receives your paperwork, they will send you a confirmation form. Once you sign and return it, your LISA funds will be released to your conveyancer.
- Your conveyancer then has 90 days to complete the purchase of your property. They can request an extension if they need it.
- If the sale falls through, they must send your money back to the mortgage provider, who will deposit it back into your account.
An experienced and quality conveyancer will ensure that this process is performed as efficiently as possible. You could also work with an independent mortgage broker who can find you the best mortgage deals to match your circumstances.
Income for retirement
Once you turn 60, you can access your LISA funds without any penalties or fees. You can open a Lifetime ISA from the ages of 18-39, save into it and receive the 25% bonus until you reach 50. For the next 10 years, your funds will generate interest. If you make a withdrawal before 60, you’ll pay an early withdrawal charge.
A Lifetime ISA isn’t designed to be a replacement for a workplace pension or even a personal pension, but rather an additional savings vehicle to boost your income for retirement.
If you are diagnosed with a terminal illness and have less than 12 months left to live, you can access your money without facing any charges or losing the 25% government bonus. To do this, you will need to supply your Lifetime ISA provider with written evidence from a doctor, who will then grant early access to your funds.
How do I apply for a Lifetime ISA?
You can apply for a LISA if you are a UK resident and aged between 18-39. Depending on the provider you go with, you can fill out an application form online, in a branch, in the post, or over the phone. You can also apply to transfer funds from one ISA into a Lifetime ISA.
You can only apply and open one Lifetime ISA in each tax year, and you can also pay into one during each tax year.
Bear in mind that while there are many Lifetime ISAs available online, you could find a better deal by working with a financial advisor.
Speak to an expert
To find out if a Lifetime ISA is right for you and which providers offer the best accounts for your needs, make an enquiry or call 0808 189 0463.
We’ll then put you in touch with an experienced financial advisor who is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to ensure that you receive the best advice possible.