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Intestacy

If you die without making a Will your estate will not necessarily pass on to whom you want.

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Will Writing

Wills are not just for passing on your estate. They can be used for Inheritance Tax planning, appointing Guardians for children, passing on businesses, protecting assets from care costs etc.

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Long Term Care

Steps can be taken to protect assets from being sold to pay for long term care fees.

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Lasting Power of Attorney

If you have mental incapacity no one (including spouses and close family) has automatic rights to take over your affairs.

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Business Succession

If you are a owner of a business will it continue after your death?

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Inheritance Tax

How do you reduce the impact of inheritance tax?

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Document Storage

Do you and your family know where your Wills are kept?

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Probate &
Estate Administration

Do you need help in administering an estate?

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Business Succession Planning

If you are the sole proprietor of business, will it continue after your death and if it does, will your family have the skills to continue it?

If you own a business or are a partner or a shareholder in a business it is important to consider what will happen to that business after your death. This includes inter alia:

  • Shareholders’ Agreements (perhaps giving business partners or co shareholders or family first refusal to purchase your shares).
  • Cross Option Agreements (giving business partners or co-shareholders first refusal to purchase your share of the business).
  • Key Man Insurance (paying a lump sum to enable business partners/ co-shareholders to purchase your interests)
business succession planning

You should consult your accountant, solicitor or financial advisor about this. If you don’t have someone to help you, I can help

Inheritance Tax (“IHT”)

Some business assets are not liable to IHT on death (or transfer during life). The main IHT relief is on:

  • Sole trader businesses
  • An interest in a business (such as a partner)
  • Unquoted shares and shares traded on the Unlisted Share Market (“USM”) or the Alternative Share Market (“AIM”)
  • Unlisted securities which (perhaps in conjunction with other unquoted shares or securities) give the owner control of the company.

This relief, known as Business Property Relief (“BPR”), is at 100% of the value of the property or business and the property or business must have been owned for at least two years continuously on death (or on transfer during life).

  • Business Property Releif is limited to 50% on:
  • Listed shares which themselves or with other listed shares or securities give control of the company
  • Land, buildings, plant and machinery used wholly or mainly in the business or partnership or company.

Business Property Relief is not available if:

  • The company or business is wholly or mainly engaged in dealing with securities, stocks or shares, land or buildings, or in making or holding of investments
  • The business is not carried out for gain
  • The business (or shares in the company) is subject to a contract for sale.

Business Property Releif is a complicated aspect of Inheritance Tax and the above is only a brief and incomplete resume of the subject.

Similar provisions apply to Agricultural Property.

Wills

Subject to any shareholder/cross option agreements, your Will should give your Trustees (Executors) powers to carry on the running of the business on behalf of your family (without owning the financial interest you are leaving for the benefit of your family), making day-to-day and one-off decisions (such as selling the business) with suitable indemnities. So the choice of Trustees is very important (and could include business partners, co-shareholders, or accountants or solicitors with suitable business experience).

Having ascertained that Business Property Releif is available for a business asset, the next step is to make best use of the relief. If such an asset is left to a spouse or civil partner then the effect is that the Business Property Releif has been wasted, because any transfer to a spouse or civil partner is fully exempt from Inheritance Tax (ignoring foreign domicile issues). So the best way of dealing with business assets is to leave them to a discretionary trust in your Will.

The beneficiaries of such a discretionary the trust will be the people you want to benefit from the business asset (usually spouse/civil partner and children/grandchildren). The benefit of this for beneficiaries is that they need only draw down income or capital from the proceeds of any sale or dividends as and when they need it (or borrow the money from the trust and not worry about repaying it - with the consent of the trustees). This means that on the death of a beneficiary any cash still in the trust does not form part of their estate and so is not subject to Inheritance Tax.

The discretionary trust in the Will may be a new trust set up by the Will or an existing trust set up in the lifetime of the deceased, called a Pilot Trust. The need for Pilot Trusts depends on the value of the business asset. Pilot Trusts are used to remove the requirement to pay ten year anniversary or exit Inheritance Tax charges.

I can help you draft your will so that you take maximum advantage of Inheritance Tax exemptions and your business is passed on in the most effective way.