Annie Shaw: Your money problems solved

Annie Shaw / 06 December 2018

Annie Shaw on what to do with wrongly delivered post, pensions from past employment and stamp duty on an inherited house


While getting out Christmas decorations from the garage, I found a package of photographic equipment delivered to my home last year in error – it had my address on it but the addressee name was different. I had called the number on the package several times and left my contact details on their answer machine, but no one called back and I had forgotten about it. Can I donate it to charity as I don’t want it?


As this package was wrongly addressed or ‘misdelivered’, the goods belong to the sender, so you did the right thing in trying to return them. If you had kept the goods and refused to hand them over, the sender could take court action to recover them. But you’re not obliged to return a package personally – the firm should have sent someone to collect it, or reimbursed you for postage costs, and you don’t have to inconvenience yourself if you don’t want to.

How to deal with wrongly delivered post

As you’ve tried to return the goods, and a reasonable period of time has elapsed for the firm to recover them, can you dispose of them? After a year, I believe it’s reasonable for you to assume the firm has given up on the goods. If you’re in any doubt, try one last time to contact the firm in writing as your previous efforts were phone calls, and there may be no record of them. Keep a copy of the letter and proof of posting, and give them 14 days to collect the package. The firm could still ask for the goods back and, if you’ve disposed of them, ask you to reimburse their cost. But it’s unlikely it would do so after all this time.


I’m approaching retirement and becoming alarmed at how many decisions I need to make. I have a number of pensions from various employers and I am worried about how I will be able to manage my retirement income. Where should I start?


Your first port of call should be Pension Wise, the Government’s free, impartial advisory service for people approaching retirement. Phone 0800 138 3944 to book a telephone appointment. Or go to to search for your nearest face-to-face appointment location. They will explain your options without giving you specific advice, but this will enable you to take the next step. You can also read up about pension options and what you can expect from Pension Wise on the Money Advice Service website (go to and search ‘Pension Wise’).

How to maximise pension income

Eventually you will probably need to talk to a qualified independent financial adviser. Many people do manage their retirement income themselves, but if you have little experience of investing, it will almost certainly be worth your while to pay for professional advice that can be closely tailored to your circumstances – including providing for a spouse if necessary.

You may also like to ask friends and family if they can recommend an adviser. Or use one of the search services, such as, or, to find one in your area. Never respond to a cold call on the phone or any advertisement on social media, as these are almost certainly scams.

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My late mother left her house to me and my brother jointly. It is valued at £110,000 and I have agreed to buy out my brother for £55,000. I am somewhat surprised to have been asked by my brother’s solicitor, who is doing the legal work, to pay £1,650 stamp duty land tax (SDLT). Since the house is worth less than £120,000, and the value of the transaction is in any case just £55,000, I had expected it to be stamp-duty free.


It depends if you already own a property. If you do, then you are being charged a 3% SDLT surcharge, which applies where the transaction results in cases of multiple property ownership. It works the same as if you were buying a holiday home or a buy-to-let.

If you don’t already own a property, then you should not have to pay the surcharge and your transaction at £55,000 should indeed fall into the 0% SDLT bracket.

If you already own a home, but are planning to sell it and move into your mother’s house, you should be able to reclaim the SDLT once your current house is sold, as long as you make your claim within three months of the sale.

Seven quick fixes to help sell your house

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.