It is said that Christmas is a time for giving but when it comes to ‘life planning’ there are two questions where we can never be certain of the answer and that, for some, is the perfect excuse to do nothing! The questions:

When?… and,

How much is enough?

Increasing life expectancy means that those who wait until death before passing on family assets will be passing their wealth on to the next generation when it is far too late. You can spot those families they are the couples indulging their ‘Bucket Lists’ with gusto. They have struggled through mortgages and children watching their parents save their ‘wealth’ for ‘their old age’. When the time comes they have spent little and, instead of benefitting the family give many hundreds of thousands to the Chancellor through the entirely voluntary inheritance tax scheme. When the next generation get their hands on what’s left they set about making up for lost time.

‘How much is enough?’ is a very different challenge. If there is money available then passing the right amount to the right people in a timely manner can make a world of difference. I’ve talked about ‘Magic Grandparents’ working with the parents to encourage their grand-children to prosper and grow. Travel or paying for education (in its broadest sense) are favourite themes, or it could be passing on valued possessions.

Do whatever you believe to be right – but make sure