Whatever your net worth, it is essential to plan for the future to ensure that your family and your financial goals are met after your death.
The first step in the planning process is to take stock of your assets. Assets include your investments, retirement savings, insurance policies, your property (wherever situated) as well as your business interests.
The next step is to decide who you want to inherit your assets, who you want handling your financial affairs if you’re ever incapacitated, and who do you want making medical decisions for you if you become unable to make them for yourself.
Fundamentally a will is essential in this process. It states simply and clearly where you want your assets distributed when you die. Failure to write a will, known as dying “intestate”, can be costly to your heirs and leaves you and your family with no say over who gets your assets. (This can of course include the dreaded TAXMAN).
Discussing your estate plans with your heirs may prevent disputes or confusion. Inheritance can be a loaded issue, and being clear about your intentions helps dispel potential conflicts after you’re gone.
It is ironic that the most punitive of taxes that the Government levies (there are, as you are probably aware more creeping in constantly) become payable after death. However, with the Inheritance tax (IHT) mitigation opportunities currently available, it is possible to reduce or even entirely eliminate your IHT liability.
It is therefore essential that you ascertain what your current IHT liability could be.
Most people are totally unaware that some of the investments and insurance policies that they already own could afford significant IHT benefits. For example, an independent financial advisor may be able to help, ensure that the death benefits from your pensions and life assurance policies are written into the appropriate trust so that the benefits don’t automatically fall into your estate on death.
Trusts allow you to put conditions on how and when your assets will be distributed upon your death allowing you to reduce the value of your estate and gift taxes payable, as well as to distribute assets to your heirs without the cost, delay, and publicity of probate court, which administers wills.
Many of these issues are of significant concern to our clients. We can arrange client consultations to discuss any areas our clients may have concerns over.
Our talented and qualified tax and estates team review all our clients’ investment portfolios and assist in the preparation of our clients’ estate plans. Through careful planning and the use of tax efficient investment vehicles we design financial strategies for our clients, which have the potential to save our clients thousands of pounds.
The Financial Services Authority does not regulate Inheritance Tax Planning.
Should you need further information or advice please contact us.