Estate Planning – A Science and an Art

The recent change in climate surrounding “tax planning” has led to many embarrassed celebrities and plenty of public outrage in the face of what appears to be rich individuals “cheating” the taxman. However, applying careful thought how to structure your estate and how this will be passed on at death is essential even if all taxes were abolished tomorrow.

Thought needs to be given to the nature of the assets you are leaving, the claims against them that any 3rd parties may have as well as the current and future lifestyles and capabilities of those you are leaving them to. You also need to look at how the economy and the political situation may impact on your circumstances in the future and consider how this may affect your wealth and the way in which you wish to leave your assets.

Even after such careful consideration is given to how your affairs should be structured, it is not often the case that your crystal ball gazing will pay off, as life always throws up the unpredictable. Relationships forming or breaking down, ill health or the arrival of offspring can all take life in unexpected directions and so a regular review is always important.

With relatively generous Inheritance Tax allowances now available to most married couples there are still plenty of other reasons to review your affairs and to ensure that the correct structure is in place to suit your circumstance. This should include a property drafted and up to date will, a Lasting Power of Attorney to guard against incapacity or illness in the future, a suitable life insurance policy to ensure funds are available to the family to access quickly after your death, and detailed instructions to your pension provider as to what should happen to the fund after your death.

These are what might be described as the basics of estate planning and anyone who owns significant assets, from the moderately prosperous to the very rich should bear these in mind, but consulting with a professional will allow more bespoke provision to be made where necessary and to keep this updated as life continues to produce the unexpected.

Sutton McGrath Hartley is a multi-disciplinary firm of chartered accountants, financial advisers and lawyers offering comprehensive financial expertise for all business, personal and family interests. Our specialists can help with all aspects of tax and estate planning. To discuss your requirements please contact David Sutton on 0114 266 4432 or


David Sutton, Managing Partner at Sutton McGrath Hartley
David Sutton, Managing Partner at Sutton McGrath Hartley

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