Tax & Estate Law
Asset protection solicitors in the north west, looking at the bigger picture for you
Trust and Estate Practitioners and their role in protecting assets
There is a wide-spread belief (regrettably shared by some non-specialist solicitors) that the drafting and preparation of a Will is a simple exercise. It is not. It takes years of training and experience on the part of a specialist lawyer to produce a well-drafted and tax-efficient Will.
At Coupe Bradbury only lawyers who are also members of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners ('STEP') prepare Wills – even apparently simple Wills which require no considerations of tax). Only persons of proven competence in Will-drafting, trust and estate planning work are accepted as members of STEP.
A well drafted Will provides a unique opportunity not only to avoid Inheritance Tax but also to protect assets against the casualty of the break-down at any future date of the marriage or dissolution of Civil Partnership of a family beneficiary. It will also protect family assets against inappropriate management or financial imprudence and profligacy. Indeed, a well structured Will will enable family assets to be employed in a tax-efficient manner throughout the lifetimes of the beneficiaries. It will provide comfort and financial security to the beneficiaries, whatever happens in their lives. It will enable income to be fed through to children who are non-taxpayers but on the basis that their parents will have the use of the funds to educate and bring them up. It will provide tax-efficient cash to supplement retirement income. Finally, it will avoid Inheritance Tax being paid on the inheritance when family beneficiaries die.
All this change, and the asset protection it affords, can only be accomplished if the practitioner takes care to follow certain procedures prior to the drafting and completion of the Will. In particular he needs:
- To complete a full and detailed “fact-find” as to the personal circumstances of the client and his/her family and other persons whom the client may wish to benefit. During this exercise the practitioner will need to consider:
-- Whether any person will have a potential claim against the estate under the Inheritance (Provision for Family & Dependants) Act 1975.
-- Whether family wealth needs to be sheltered against potential claims from an estranged spouse, partner or Civil Partner of a family beneficiary or creditors of a family beneficiary.
-- Whether family wealth needs to be sheltered against imprudent or profligate management of an inheritance by a family beneficiary.
-- Whether guardians of infant children need to be appointed and whether also they will incur costs in accepting the children into their household. Trust funds will need to be made available to cover these costs and to provide for the education and upbringing of the children.
- To complete a full fact-find as to the assets and liabilities of the estate (and their values) and as to how these assets are legally owned. The manner in which assets are held can be especially important in the case of couples in a marriage or Civil Partnership. Substantial amounts of Inheritance Tax can be saved through the re-arrangement of assets during the joint lifetimes. We will provide help and guidance to you in respect of such matters.
- To give detailed consideration as to whether any steps need to be taken to avoid Inheritance Tax. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, in his pre-budget report effective in October 2007, introduced the “transferable nil-rate band”. This enables the nil rate band available on the death of a spouse or Civil Partner (to the extent that it has not been used on the first death) to be used by the second spouse on their subsequent death.
How to proceed
If you would like further information on how out services can help you to protect your assets, or to make an appointment to see one of our specialists, please telephone Diane Whittaker on 01253 736670 or use the contact details on our Enquiry pages.
Contact our Tax & Estate Planning Law department
Email: David@coupe-bradbury.com Telephone number: 01253 736670 Fax: 01253 794108
David is based at our Lytham office: The Chapel House, Bath Street, Lytham, Lancashire FY8 5ES