Samantha Cameron's inheritance tax row highlights why inheritance tax planning is a must

In a row over tax and inheritance, Samantha Cameron's relatives have found that taking their fight to court is extremely costly. The Judge in the case said the legal bill is haemorrhaging the estate and has urged the parties to mediate.

In family inheritance cases the heady mix of money and personal vengeance often clouds the judgment of the participants. The lawyers are often the only true winners.

The case revealed the difficult choices faced by those leaving large estates. In order to avoid the destructive effects of inheritance tax, complex planning must be undertaken. But planning needs continuous review. In this case, the initial planning involved had been done during a different tax regime that of the long defunct Capital Transfer Tax.

Those with large estates need to be aware that they may never fully escape taxation. Some people are philosophical about this; after all, someone has to fund the public services we all rely on.

But here are five things you can do to help mitigate your tax bill:

1) Take continuing professional advice from your solicitor, accountant and IFA. Tax rules change frequently, and your advisors should be up-to-date on the latest rules. Yes, they charge, but on-going professional fees are nothing like the costs of litigation or a surprise tax bill.

2) Make full use of your exemptions and reliefs. This is not evading tax. It is simply complying fully with those opportunities to save on tax which are made available by law.

3) Consider gifting. It may be that your loved ones could benefit more from an inheritance now, rather than on your death.

4) Consider protecting investments using schemes agreed with HMRC, such as business property relief investments.

5) Consider gifting to charity. The financial crisis has seen charity income fall sharply. If you are going to lose some of your estate to tax, then perhaps you would rather give it to charity?

Helen Gott

Written by

Helen Gott

Director & Head of Wills & Probate

Helen is a solicitor, Director and Head of the Wills & Probate department at Emsleys Solicitors. Since qualifying in 2010, Helen has specialised exclusively in the area of Wills & Probate and is described as "very knowledgeable" in The Legal 500 2018-19. Helen is an expert in wills,...

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