When talking with new clients about their estate planning arrangements I can’t help but reflect on the human capacity to create blind spots to mask subjects we prefer not to address – and with it the ingenuity of advisers who add a veneer of respectability to our oversights.
If, through skill, ability good fortune or good luck, you manage to make money during your working life and that wealth exceeds the inheritance tax limits, then your estate will be taxed – in the UK this is currently at a rate of 40%. This tax is not inevitable but to avoid passing almost half of your wealth straight to the government you need to plan ahead – and act!
One wealthy individual, who owned many properties, continued to work despite a heart attack, because he ‘didn’t know what else to do’. When asked what he planned for his estate he ‘guessed’ it would go to his step-daughter. Now how he spends his remaining years is his call, but I suggested he find time to show his step-daughter how to manage multiple properties. If not he stands a real chance of ruining her life as so called experts will be there to advise her – for a fat fee – right down to her last pound.
Another individual proudly boasted that he had ‘all that sorted’. His adviser had arranged for all his wealth to pass to his younger wife and then it will be managed jointly by her and said adviser. To me that simply dodges the real issue and places the onus on others – but in this case at least the adviser can be certain of being well paid!
The bottom line is that if you have created wealth during your life-time then you need to think about what happens to it after you’re gone. If you don’t then the government will help by taking the first 40% up-front but the rest may still mar the lives of those you say you care about!