Probate and Will, Trust & Estate Disputes

Publish date

31 August 2023

Estate planning for beneficiaries

We offer an estate planning service for those who have been left a substantial legacy, or who inherit part of an estate.  Your inheritance may change your personal circumstances and it’s a good idea to think about whether there are any steps you need to take.  This very brief guide will help you with that.

Your will

If you don’t have a will, you should think about drawing one up: it allows your estate to pass as you wish rather than under the laws of intestacy, but is also an opportunity to think about inheritance tax planning.  If you do have a will, you should review it in the light of your changed circumstances.

Sharing your wealth

Wanting to provide for those close to you is often at the forefront of a beneficiary’s mind.  There are different ways to do this, and it’s important to understand the tax implications of each one.  It’s also important to consider carefully whether you might need access to the assets you have received in the future.  An outright gift is simple and often tax efficient, but may not always be appropriate (such as in the case of gifts to children under 18), but a suitable alternative might be a trust.

Deeds of Variation

A Deed of Variation redirects all or part of what you receive from an estate, and is particularly tax effective as for inheritance tax and capital gains tax, the gift is treated as having been made by the deceased rather than by you.  It also allows additional flexibility if it is used to create a trust, allowing you to continue to benefit from the assets in future, whilst removing them from your estate for inheritance tax purposes.

Lasting Powers of Attorney

These documents come into effect if in the future you lose capacity to manage your own affairs, or to make healthcare decisions.  To ensure that those decisions are made by people you trust and who know your wishes, you appoint one or more attorneys to act on your behalf.

Estate Planning

Ideally, you would consider wills, lifetime gifts, Deeds of Variation and Lasting Powers of Attorney as part of an overall estate plan.  This is a review of your assets in the context of your aims for your family and loved ones both during your lifetime and after your death.  It looks at how you own your assets (for example, jointly held property), overseas assets (such as a holiday home), whether any assets qualify for particular reliefs, how to mitigate inheritance and capital gains tax, business protection and succession, death-in-service benefits and life insurance, Lasting Powers of Attorney and potential care home fee planning.  An estate plan ensures that all your wishes are carried out effectively and as tax efficiently as possible.  The plan should be reviewed regularly, particularly when your circumstances change.  A change of circumstance includes marriage, children, divorce, inheritance or other major life events.

Investment advice and retirement planning

You may not previously have taken specialist investment advice, but should consider it now to help protect and build your assets.  Whilst we don’t give investment advice we work with investment advisors to help our clients achieve their overall aims.

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