Thursday, 17 November 2016

Appointing joint attorneys? Here’s a welcome clarification of the law

Lasting Powers of Attorney are an essential wealth management tool for anyone who directly holds UK assets and can name at least someone whom they trust to take decisions on their behalf.  They are often made by individuals concerned about who would continue to make decisions about their finances or their health and welfare if they ever lost capacity to do so themselves.  They are increasingly popular – registrations of Lasting Powers topped 533,000 in the year to end March 2016; a 35% increase from the previous year.  The increasing number of registrations indicates that there are more Lasting Powers in circulation. 

Many clients want to appoint more than one attorney.  The Lasting Power of Attorney legislation permits the appointment of both attorneys and replacement attorneys, the latter acting as substitutes.  Joint attorneyships are not uncommon.  Take the situation of an individual – James – who wants to appoint his wife Amy and his brother Bill as his attorneys, to act jointly in relation to his finances.  His lawyer tells him that it would be prudent to name a replacement attorney too and he chooses his son Christopher.  But his son is still in his twenties and, if either Amy or Bill or both were able to act, he would like them to do so in preference to Christopher.  This simple sounding request has had English law in knots for a while. 

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Non-dom tax changes – IHT periodic charges and offshore trusts

Well advised non-doms know that UK situated assets should never be directly held by their offshore discretionary trusts.  To do so would subject the offshore trust to periodic charges to UK Inheritance Tax (IHT).  These charges comprise the entry charge, the ten year anniversary charge, and exit charges, where value leaves the trust after creation.

To avoid these charges arising, it has been commonplace for UK situs assets, such as UK real estate, to be owned by an offshore company, which in turn is wholly owned by an offshore trust.  The trust’s asset is the shares in the offshore company – non-UK situs, so the trust is not subject to periodic IHT charges as it does not directly own UK situated assets.  As a result, many non-doms have no understanding of what periodic charges are and when they apply.  However, if the Government’s proposals in their August Further Consultation come to pass, ignorance of IHT periodic charges could cost non-doms and their offshore trusts.