Thursday, 14 May 2015

The Reluctant Will Maker


When you are surrounded by wills on a daily basis (as I am), it’s easy to forget that, for some of our clients, even the thought of making a will is a stressful business, to be avoided at all costs.  This was brought home to me recently when I met a couple of Family Office bankers.  They explained that some of their clients find the whole will making process a bit daunting.  The lawyer asks a lot of serious and scary questions, such as what should happen to the family business, when should the children inherit, who should be their guardians etc. etc. and then nothing gets done!  As a lawyer, this is exactly what I don’t want to see happening, as I know the profound family heartache and disruption that can arise if someone dies without a will (see my blog: ‘Dying without a will – the hard facts’ 3 July 2014; I’m afraid that might indeed scare you).

Thursday, 30 April 2015

Pension death benefits planning: a question of control

Before the recent pension changes were announced, it made sense, for Inheritance Tax (IHT) planning purposes, to request that any death benefits payable from a money purchase private pension on the pension scheme member’s death were paid into a separate trust (a ‘bypass trust’), usually for the benefit of the member’s spouse and family.  Structuring matters in this way would prevent what could sometimes be significant sums from being paid direct to the surviving spouse, with the potential for any unspent funds to be taxed at 40% IHT on the surviving spouse’s death.  On the other hand, by using the trust route, the spouse could still enjoy full access to the pension funds via loans made from the trust, which have the potential to be deductible for IHT purposes on the survivor’s death.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Mixed domicile couples


Non-doms are in the news again, with one British political party wanting to scrap non-domiciled status if they are elected to be the next Government on 7 May.  This sort of headline reinforces the casual view that being a non-dom is always advantageous for UK tax purposes.  However, if you are part of a mixed domicile couple, where one of you is UK domiciled and the other isn’t, you might disagree.  Estate planning is not plain sailing for you.

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

ATED tips and traps

Apologies to all my regular Thursday readers but the electrical fire in Kingsway last week disrupted internet connectivity.  Here is last week's blog.  The next post is scheduled for Thursday 16 April.




Financially minded Brits will be focused on the impending end of the British income tax year.  Here in the office, we’re also focused on the start of another one – the 2015/2016 Annual Tax on Enveloped Dwellings (ATED) tax year begins on 1 April 2015 and, for UK residential properties valued for ATED purposes as worth £2 million or over, owned by ‘non-natural persons’ such as companies, the ATED tax returns and any tax due must be in by 30 April 2015. 

Thursday, 19 March 2015

How to save Inheritance Tax on your main residence


Successful Inheritance Tax (IHT) mitigation in respect of the main residence is one of the hardest things to do, as the law currently stands.  However, as many people’s most valuable asset is their bricks and mortar, it is a problem that demands some consideration – even if the answer is to do nothing (yet) or take out life cover written in trust.  But if neither of those appeals, what then?

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Can I take instructions from my client’s attorney?


You have been managing your client’s money for many years when, out of the blue, you are contacted by someone claiming to be your client’s attorney.  The attorney is brandishing a copy English Property and Financial Affairs Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA), certified on every page (as it should be) by the donor (i.e. the giver) of the power.  So far, so reassuring.  But is it safe for you to act on the attorney’s instructions?  Here’s some food for thought.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

EU Trusts Register – update


In my 13 March 2014 blog on ‘Trusts and the EU’s Fourth Anti-Money Laundering Directive’, I highlighted the EU Parliament’s plans to introduce a register of settlors, trustees and beneficiaries of trusts, as set out in the draft of the Fourth Anti-Money Laundering Directive.  The Directive has now been finalised and, whilst it looks as though the register will still go ahead, the number of trusts affected will be reduced and trust information will not be placed on a publicly available register.