The vast majority of us have little option over the amount of tax we have to render unto Caesar (aka Mr Darling). While it’s certainly possible to legitimately rearrange one’s affairs to minimise tax – say, by making pension or ISA contributions – there is one tax which, with some careful forward planning, it’s possible to avoid altogether – Inheritance Tax (IHT).
I don’t have the space here to go into the detail of how IHT works, but suffice to say that even after judicious use of allowances, if a couple’s estate (including pension funds) is worth more than £650,000 then Mr Darling will be rubbing his hands expectantly. IHT is charged at 40% currently, but with the higher rate of income tax increasing to 50% next year, and given the desperate need to raise revenue, it is possible the amount of tax raised could increase.
Effective IHT avoidance usually involves reducing the value of the estate that can be assessed. You could spend or gift away your money, but for most people that’s not practical, unless you know exactly how long you are likely to live!
This is where Trusts can provide a solution. A Trust is a separate legal entity. Assets in a Trust are not “your money”, but as the settlor (i.e. the one who gifted the funds to the Trust), you may still have some control over it.
The amount of control and access you have will determine just how effective is the avoidance of IHT. The design of the trust is crucial in making sure that you can have as much access as you feel you may need.
We work closely with professionals and companies that specialise in designing IHT Avoidance Schemes. These can make use of either capital available for investment or “spare” income. Our experience in dealing with these various schemes shows that no two investors are the same and therefore it’s essential to make sure any arrangement is tailor-made to suit your (and your family’s) individual circumstances. There is no “off-the-peg” solution.
If you are concerned about IHT we can provide you with a simple and straightforward assessment of your current position and show you – had you died yesterday, how much tax your family would now have to pay. If you would like the reassurance of knowing the answer to that question – and then learn about some of the options available to reduce or avoid that figure, please get in touch.