Inheritance Tax Planning Expert
At the heart of what I do is a simple idea.
Will writing, inheritance planning, will and probate – at the heart of what I do is a simple idea.
It’s the w, the w, and the w.
The who, the what and the when.
What I Do
It’s a simple idea:
- who inherits your assets
- what they inherit of your assets, and most importantly,
- when they inherit.
In sum, do you care?
Do you care who inherits your assets.
Do you care what they get of the fruit of your life’s work, and most importantly when they get it?
Permit me paraphrase Malvolio: you might have been born rich, you might have worked hard, you might have been lucky.
How ever you came about your assets, irrespective of the extent of your fortune, indeed, your wealth might be mighty or modest – when the last of your days has passed, do you care who inherits them?
I’ll explain, I’ll illustrate, and I’ll spell out everything that could affect your inheritance.
My Inheritance Planning Expertise
I can see round corners.
I’ve seen all the ills that could injure your family’s wealth
I wrote the book on will writing and inheritance planning – it’s no mere figure of speech.
I wrote the book.
Sleepwalking into Intestacy
I’ll explain the ills that could afflict inheritances of families like yours and mine.
We’ll see the traps that can aid those who mean to steal your family’s wealth.
You’ll decide if those ills are worth guarding against.
The essence will writing, fundamental to inheritance planning, the foundation of will and probate is preventing you sleepwalking into intestacy.
A colleague of mine Cheryl, calls wills and inheritance planning ‘legal love letters’. That’s a tidy encapsulation of long held sentiment that inheritance planning is our ultimate duty to your family.
At a minimum, I prevent intestacy.
What Intestacy Rules Mean
Intestacy means minor children in your care could end up in the clutches of the local social services department. In all my years, I’ve not met a parent who’d want to compound their child’s misfortune of the death of a parent by condemning the child to the care of the council.
Intestacy creates immediate uncertainty about who gets what from your estate and when. Uncertainty is the fount of all arguments, with the attendant familial ill will aggravated by the expense of legal fees. Intestacy could lead to excessive, unnecessary inheritance tax being paid both immediately. It treats unmarried partners harshly. Intestacy could mean the fruit of your life’s work goes to the crown. Unclaimed estates end up with the Duchy of Lancaster.
That’s the uncertainty.
The Crushing Certainty
Now let’s talk of calamitous certainty that intestacy breeds.
With the predictability with which day follows night, while it might take ten, thirty or more years, intestacy means your family would pay inheritance tax which with a bit of planning , they wouldn’t otherwise have had to pay. We’ll see how that how that happens further on.
Intestacy is founded on laws which take scant account of modern life. Today, living with someone to whom one is not married is unremarkable, in these enlightened times, the rules of intestacy treat cohabitees in such particularly punitive terms that many would see the government using outdated inheritance rules as tools to enforce social policy.
Preventing intestacy is necessary, it is a necessary first step, but it is not the full story.
The heart of inheritance planning, the core of will writing, at the centre of will and probate is the principle of ensuring the fruit of your life’s work stays in your family till the end of time. This includes preventing punitive inheritance tax liabilities.
I’ll show you how inheritance tax works.
How Inheritance Really Works
One of our obligations as citizens of a democratic society is to pay our taxes. I doubt you or I would want to live in a land in which people didn’t pay their taxes. Nonetheless, I’m yet to see any sense in paying more than one’s fair share.
Many think they know how inheritance tax works. Worse, some might say they own too little to bother with inheritance tax.
Expert inheritance tax planning is more than merely saving tax, it’s about your family’s welfare, and we’ll see how later.
A Bit More on Inheritance Tax
Many, in considering inheritance tax act as if they were a part of the youth of today who have no need to lift their eyes from their mobile phones.
They concern themselves with the minutiae.
Minutiae such as the inheritance tax allowance.
They’ve mastered trivia.
Trivia such as the current rate of inheritance tax.
Perhaps they know of the seven-year rule: these are mere tactics in an undertaking that demands a strategic approach – it’s being short-sighted in an enterprise that calls for a broad overview of both current goings on, it is suffering lamentable myopia which would rob you of the far-sightedness necessary to develop an understanding of the social and financial you’d want your family to enjoy several decades and generations in the future.
Inheritance Tax – The Big Picture
It would be as if you wanted to build a house. But rather than commission an architect and master builder you engaged folk of sundry trades – maybe a carpenter there, perhaps a plumber here and so on, because, after all, that’s how they do it on the television shows. The building would be completed considerably later than it should have, the excessive cost of construction would be ruinously high and to the eternal frustration of the owners and occupants, it would not fulfil with any measure of efficiency the primary purpose of a house, which is to be a machine for living in. And, that’s just a simple house. Building a house calls for an all-encompassing approach rather than a piecemeal, do what appears cheap, let’s search for a video on Youtube attitude.
The Million-Pound Con
Currently, the worst manifestation of the misunderstanding of inheritance tax is that many of our fellow citizens fall for the million-pound magic trick. This bare-faced con trick that is the residential nil rate band. It is an elaborate tool that induces IHT short-sightedness. It favours those who are scheming on the meaning of your family’s future well-being. This trick favours those who by traps and snares look to impoverish your family.
A most acute form of inheritance blindness afflicts those who believe they own too little to be bothered by inheritance tax. Therefore, let’s talk about Mrs Robinson, my long-ago landlady.
The chart above outlines the progression of the IHT liability on the first property in which I lived when I left university. It was a four-bedroomed house in north London which my landlady inherited from her husband just before I moved in. When she inherited the property in 1987, her benefactor, her husband might have said, in all correctness something to the effect: ‘I’ve too little to bother with inheritance tax’. In 1987, the property was considerably below the inheritance tax threshold, but by Mrs Robinson’s death in 2003 the property value had risen to £900,000 and her daughter had who inherited the property from her had an inheritance tax bill of £300,000. By mid 2020 when Mrs Robinson’s grandson inherited the house, his inheritance tax bill was £470,000. If Mr Robinson had planned to secure his family’s financial wellbeing, his invoice would have been £2,500.
The Basic or Mirror Will
Mrs Robinson’s family, like countless generations of families either cast their family’s financial fate to the winds of intestacy or made a basic will or worse, they took comfort in something they know as mirror wills. For the sake of clarity, we use the terms ‘mirror will’ and ‘basic will’ interchangeably.
The basic will provides, some limited security. There are a few people for whom the paltry protections of the basic will are sufficient, but this half-hearted job is not you want for your family, this half-arsed job would betrayal of your duty to your family, this superficial act would rob future generations of your family of its future wealth.
If it’s worth doing at all, it’s worth doing well.
If it’s Worth Doing At All…
Those who write a basic or mirror will tend to treat will writing or inheritance planning as it were a box-ticking exercise.
The protections of the basic will are bare because the estates, the family well-being, the future social standing of the families to which they relate are meant to protect are susceptible to several threats. These threats include including care costs, marriage (of the beneficiary) after death, creditors, divorce and generational inheritance tax.
The form of a basic will is: ‘everything to my spouse or partner, and when he or she dies, everything to the children in this relationship in equal shares’. With a basic will, if you were part of a couple, married, living together, (for the purpose of this illustration, I’ll use the word ‘partner’, and I’ll imagine your died before your partner) therefore following the form of words at the start of this paragraph, all your worldly goods would go to your partner, the following possibilities arise:
If your partner needed care, your partners assets, which now include those inherited from you would be assessed to pay for care. The entire estate could be eaten up by the cost of care. The family home might be lost to care fees.
Marriage After Death (MAD)
Should your partner marry someone else, all your family’s assets could be lost to the new spouse. This would leave your children empty-handed. This happens so often there’s a name for it. Accidental disinheritance – implying you’ve accidentally disinherited your children by writing a basic will.
Creditors or Bankruptcy
If your partner were subject to creditor claims or bankruptcy proceedings, then the inherited estate would be at risk. This is because the creditors would look to claim all the assets in your surviving partner’s name. No creditors would abandon their claim because they’d be depriving your children of their inheritance.
On Second Death
On the death of both you and your partner (or if there were no partner in the first place) the simple or mirror will exposes your estate, your family’s future wellbeing to further threats to your which in addition to the potential villains identified above, they have accomplices which I’ll introduce below.
If your children were subject to divorce proceedings, their departing spouses would bring the inherited estate into the calculation as part of the financial settlement. Near the bottom of this page is a rendering of an experience of divorce and inheritance.
Their Own Care Costs
Because you’ve passed the inheritance to your children, these assets could later be assessed for their own care costs. The effect would be that your estate has leaked out your family.
Generational Inheritance Tax
When your children inherit from you, it would swell their own estate. This unfortunately would further subject the estate you passed down to them to inheritance tax – see the illustration above of the inheritance of Mrs Robinson’s north London home.
Finally, there’s COVID-19, taxpayers would pay the cost of this disease several generations into the future. Honey called by any other name would still be sweet, inheritance tax, known by any name would still corrode your family’s wellbeing. As in Romeo and Juliet, that which we call a rose, by any other name, would still smell sweet. Death taxes, they come in several guises. And, called by any name are designed to hurt your family – they are crafted with the sole intent of transferring wealth from generations of your family – to the exchequer so it can be spent on bridges to nowhere, or given to ferry companies that have no ships, or even paying legal costs of cabinet ministers in their entanglements with prostitutes.
Your money would be better used in your family than in the hands of those who wish you to pay more tax than is your share therefore you act now to secure your family’s future.
Three Simple Rules
I’ve studied over 500 inheritance disputes – at heart of the plaintiff’s claim is ‘I didn’t know what [the other side] had cooked up with the deceased’. Here are three simple rules things testators have found helpful in preventing claims on their estate.
Tell those who would expect to benefit from your estate, your immediate family all office holders including guardians, executors and trustees know there is a will.
Let them know what’s in your will – tell them who gets what from your will in what circumstances. That’s back to the w (who), the w (what), and the w (when) that form the simple idea that is at the heart of what I do. Tell them whom the officers in the will are
Tell them know where to find it. What you use is anything, never mind something of such profound meaning and effect as a will if it cannot be found?
A Simple Idea
If you remember at the heart of what I do is a simple idea, the who, the what, and the where of who gets your estate.
You’ve identified what fates could your estate. You’ve seen how your family’s wealth could fall into the hands of the undeserving including creditors, divorcing spouses. And, horror upon horrors, your family’s legacy would be taken to inheritance tax – not to fund sensible programs which we all want and need, not to keep us safe and secure – but to fund the life-styles of tax-dodging criminals of which you’re as capable as I am adducing exemplars.
Lesson from Mrs Robinson
The lesson from Mrs Robinson’s north London house: that in the end, inheritance tax for those who do not regard it with the seriousness it merits is the thief that has designs on your family’s wellbeing several generations into the future.
Divorce & Inheritance
This page is about me, therefore, let’s talk about my family.
Let’s talk about my sister.
William Makepeace Thackery was right: love makes fools of us all big and small.
You’ve not lived until you’ve been so made a fool of, thus my sister married a man who turned out to be unsuitable. They’d agreed to part company, and they’d talked about divorce.
His Cunning Plan…
He alighted on a stratagem of dragging his feet on divorce as he knew his mother-in-law was dying of cancer. He reasoned that he’d hold off till the old lady’s death thus till his wife would have received her inheritance. His plan was to bring my sister’s inheritance into the reckoning when they were discussing the financial settlement.
Like charlatans since the beginning of time, his plan was to reap where he hadn’t shown, his intention was to swipe my half my sister’s inheritance, he’d conjured a valve by which to siphon the fruit of my mother’s lifetime’s work.
His intentions were embraced by disappointment. He failed to consider the possibility my mother’s inheritance planning could have gone beyond the basic will.
We’ve seen some of the ills, the harms, the injuries to your family’s future financial wellbeing I can help prevent.
Which of the ills we’ve talked of do you want to prevent?
To ensure your family’s security is a solid as Gibraltar, simply contact me for a no-obligation chat.
Away from My Desk
I’m a veteran of the inheritance planning business – I’ve been around so long… I wrote the book – no mere figure of speech, I wrote the book.
My varied and extensive experience means I’ve helped someone in circumstances almost identical to yours secure their inheritance for their family.
I am STEP qualified, inheritance tax planning experts who holds an MBA, and I am a member of the Society of Will Writers & Estate Planners.
If you ask nicely, I’ll let you see my tea towel collection