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Trusts

  • A trust is a legal entity that can own and protect assets for the appointed beneficiaries
  • Everyone should have a trust to safeguard ‘the family money’
  • Trusts are taxed at different rates, so getting advice is a must
  • A great tool against Inheritance Tax

What about a Trust?

Trusts are not just for the rich and wealthy, they are there to help everyone, so if you are struggling to know what to do about a particular issue, the first step is to discuss it with us. A trust might help.

There are different types of trusts so selecting the right one has to be done with care and advice; you can either set up a trust now whilst you are in good health or on death by stating the terms of it in your Will.

A trust is a separate legal entity that can own assets, those assets become the ‘trust fund’, its details and terms are contained in a document  called a ‘trust deed’ and this outlines the conditions and rules about what your trustees can and cannot do.

For example, imagine if one of your children had learning difficulties and after your death is likely to be supported by State Benefits. If you leave your estate (or even part of it) directly to that child, that wealth will then be used (in place of the State Benefits) to fund normal everyday living expenses. Now imagine the money being held in a trust fund for the child’s benefit, for life. The money is there to enhance that child’s quality of life, in addition to the State continuing to pay normal living expenses – so a very smart move!

Trusts diagram

Top 10 Inheritance Tax Tips

  1. The Annual Exemption – you can give away £3,000 each year, so a couple can give away twice this amount. If you don’t use this allowance one year, you can use it in the next year.
  2. Gift Assets to your Children – these are known as ‘potentially exempt transfers’ (PET’s) and provided you survive 7 years then the job is done. Who should make the gift? Will you lose control of the asset that you’ve gifted? Well, you can protect the gift in the hands of the recipient so you don’t need to lose total control of it.
  3. Gift part of your house to your children – after 7 years it is out of your estate for IHT. The trouble is you have to pay full market rent to your children. They in turn have to pay income tax on the rent received. If they sell it they will be liable for Capital Gains Tax (CGT) on the gain on their share, and if you get it slightly wrong the gift will fail entirely. The better solution is for one spouse to sell their half share of the house to the other spouse in exchange for an IOU, which is then gifted to the children as a 7 year PET. After 7 years, half the ‘value of the house’ is out of the estate for IHT, but the married couple still owns the entire house.
  4. IOU Scheme – as tip no. 3 above but it can be done with any asset, e.g. a share portfolio, second property and so on. When set up properly, the value of the asset will be taken out of the estate after 7 years.
  5. Deed of Variation (DoV) – say a relative dies and leaves you an inheritance that creates you an IHT liability. Use the DoV procedure to vary that Will after death and set up a Trust to receive the inheritance for the benefit of you, and your family. There are time limits but this works very well if set up correctly.
  6. Gift out of regular income – if you have an IHT estate and your income is higher than your expenditure, the problem will only get worse as time goes by. Gifting the excess out of regular income to your children is immediately exempt from IHT. The rules can be tricky to implement but this is a very significant exemption if used correctly.
  7. Business Property Relief (BPR) Scheme – if you hold investment assets in a BPR scheme for only 2 years they will be 100% exempt from IHT. You need to retain these assets until you die but you can get an income and, since you have not given these assets away, you can cash them in at any time if you need to.
  8. Settlor Excluded Trust – if you want to gift an asset to your children to avoid your IHT after 7 years, but the asset has gone up in value (like a house) and would trigger a CGT liability if you sell it, you could instead set up a Settlor Excluded Trust and transfer the asset to that trust. As you are the Settlor and a trustee you therefore retain control of the asset, but as you will have no benefit from it, given 7 years it will be out of your estate for IHT and you will get holdover relief for CGT as well.
  9. Discounted Gift Trust – can seem attractive and you can get an immediate IHT exemption for part of your initial investment. The trouble is the portion that is exempt is based on your age and health so it may not be as great as you had wished for.
  10. Family Protection Trusts (FPT’s) – avoid the problem in the first place. If inheriting from your parents is going to give you an IHT problem, get them to set up FPT’s because with their assets ‘in trust’ you will have the option of borrowing your inheritance from the trust in exchange for a valid IOU so that you get the full benefit of the inheritance without incurring an IHT liability.

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