Futureproofing your wealth – the importance of estate planning

The creation and retention of wealth are goals many of us aspire to. However, when our objectives change and it comes to providing for successive generations, it is the protection of accumulated wealth which becomes important, including the effects of Inheritance Tax (IHT).

IHT is charged at 40% on all assets above an allowance known as the nil rate band (NRB), currently set at £325,000. The NRB can be up to £650,000 for married couples and registered civil partners where the exemption is not used on first death. And given the surge in property values in recent years, it is clear that what was once a tax on the wealthy, is now falling on people of less expansive means. As a result, the phased introduction of the residence nil rate band (RNRB), from April 2017, was a much welcomed addition for those who meet the criteria.

Wealth also needs to be protected from a plethora of outside ‘events’, many of which may lead to your chosen beneficiaries being unable, unwilling or insufficiently responsible to look after funds themselves. This includes generations not yet born, those who may be at risk of divorce or bankruptcy and those liable to the expense of long term care provision/costs.

There are three practical courses of action that may be taken to preserve and enhance your wealth for your heirs:

  • Make sure your financial affairs and your Will are arranged to allow the tax efficient transfer of your assets on death.
  • Transfer assets before your death through the prudent use of lifetime gifts.
  • Create a tax efficient fund to provide a legacy or to enable the beneficiaries of your estate to meet any IHT liability.
  • To create wealth takes enterprise, vision and usually a mixture of hard work and good fortune. To retain and protect wealth also requires vision along with well thought out trust and estate planning.

The levels and bases of taxation, and reliefs from taxation, can change at any time. The value of any tax relief depends on individual circumstances.

Advice relating to a Will involves the referral to a service that is separate and distinct to those offered by St. James's Place. Wills and Trusts are not regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

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