Estate Planning – From The Most Simple To The Most Complex Cases
Wills and Estate planning solutions are both necessities that just about everyone should, at some point, think about – not necessarily just the most wealthy amongst us. From protecting your loved ones in the face of unexpected illness or death to effectively implementing a multi-generational wealth transfer plan; designing, executing, and monitoring an overall strategy – a financial professional is an important, if not essential tool in your planning.
If you have a complex estate it can be hard to understand how the different rates and reliefs apply to all your different assets. We are going to take a look at an overview of the wills and the estate planning solutions we offer from those with minimal assets to those with more substantial estates and everything in between.
Firstly, here are the most basic, necessary estate planning documents that everyone needs:
What Are The Wills And Estate Planning Necessities?
Everyone, including young adults and those just starting out, should at the very least write a will. A will is a legal document that ensures your assets are passed down as you wish without having to go through the probate process. In your will, you should name an executor who will oversee the distribution of your assets, and if you have minor children, name a guardian.
To write a will is usually sufficient for those with very straightforward financial situations and no complicated situations to consider.
For those with moderate assets and more complex wishes about how they are distributed, a trust may be beneficial. A trust is utilised when assets cannot simply be handed over to the intended beneficiary – maybe they are too young for example.
A trust is a formal arrangement where a settlor transfers an asset to the ownership of the trustees who then manage those assets on behalf of the beneficiaries for a period of time specified in the trust.
Our Trusts section can tell you all about the different types of trusts we can assist you with.
3. Lasting Powers Of Attorney
Lasting Powers of Attorney enable a person (or people) of your choice (the attorney) to make decisions on your behalf should you become incapacitated and/or are unable to do so yourself. LPA’s are important as they allow you to decide in advance, who is best placed to make these decisions for you and with your best interests in mind.
There are two types of Lasting Powers Of Attorney, a Property and Financial Affairs LPA which allows your loved ones to deal with your financial decisions and a Health and Welfare LPA that covers the decisions around your health and care. Read more about both types here.
4. Gifts To Partner Or Spouse
If you are in a civil partnership you can gift assets to your partners and the total financial value of your gift will not be considered part of your estate. If the gift is something that increases in value though, it might be subject to Capital Gains Tax. The process can also be complex for couples where the recipient wasn’t born in the UK.
5. Gifts To Family Or Friends
Each year you can make gifts of up to £3,000. You can gift to anyone: your children, grandchildren, spouses, and even friends. Gifts given within the 7 year period before you die, however, might still be considered part of your estate. Also, if you die in the first seven years after making the donation, it may not be tax free. The size of the tax relief given then is determined by the ‘Taper relief’ scale. (These terms do not apply to gifts given to a civil partner).
Another exemption is if you give a gift to old relatives such as grandparents for health and maintenance purposes and then there is no limit on your tax free payout.
Other types of expenditure that are exempt from inheritance tax are those for weddings and education. Up until age 18, families can gift their child for education or training purposes and parents can also gift children up to £5,000 tax free for their weddings.
Moderate Wealth and Estate Planning Solutions
Estate planning is essentially about two things in particular:
- Maintaining Control over the disposition of your assets; how, when, and to whom they go. If you have children or special circumstances in your family, it is more than likely you would benefit from the use of a trust to outline your wishes.
The current rate of Inheritance Tax is 40%. This threshold means no tax is payable on the first £325,000 of an estate after someone dies. However, above that figure, the whole value is subject to Inheritance Tax. There are, though, a number of tax reliefs and exemptions that we can apply to reduce your Inheritance Tax liability. Our expert team can also set up trusts and restructure your estate to substantially reduce the amount payable.
This is a complex area of law and our team has decades of experience between us. We can look at the overall picture and advise on the most cost-efficient ways of protecting your assets. Our specialist advisors will work out if you are likely to go above the threshold. If you are, we can put a plan in place for legally avoiding Inheritance Tax bills and you can potentially save thousands of pounds. It’s important to remember that regular regulatory changes can affect your estate planning solutions so your circumstances and changes in regulation should always be reviewed. If you have a large and complex estate the sooner you start to plan the better.
How We Can Help
Here at Family Matters, we work with families that have both simple and complex relationships and financial set-ups and we are fully aware of the complexities that can arise when dealing with ex spouses, stepchildren, minors and children with learning disabilities.
Our tax and estate specialists will work closely with you to identify the assets within your estate and the various possibilities for their future. We will take the time to get to know you and understand your situation and you can be assured our advice is right for your situation.