We all know that giving some of our capital away during our lifetime will maximise the benefit received by those we love and reduce the amount that is ultimately taken by the state.
However, many of us are prevented from making any lifetime gifts because we would no longer have any control over the gifted property and are worried about the consequences, for example;
- What happens if you need to recover the gifted property at a later date?
- You make a gift to your son or daughter, they subsequently divorce and their ex-spouse takes half your gift with them as part of the divorce settlement
- You make a gift of cash to a grandchild which is intended to help with fees for their education, but they spend the money elsewhere leaving them unable to afford to continue with their studies
Making an outright gift of capital to your loved ones during your lifetime therefore poses a dilemma, until we consider the use of Trusts, which demonstrate that effective planning need not involve ‘giving it all away’, or putting your own financial security at risk.
Trusts have the following advantages over outright gifts:
A trust can allow you to give an asset away, whilst continuing to control it (as a ‘trustee’) and benefit from its use / income (as a ‘beneficiary’) whilst making it inaccessible to anyone except the beneficiaries you have chosen.
You can thereby preserve your own long term security, and maximise your legacy.
Care home fees
As we become older, we are often less able to look after ourselves. It has been estimated that as many as 75% of us will need some form of long term care in the future. If we have assets in excess of certain thresholds, we will be expected to make a contribution, possibly for the entire cost of our care, in which case the costs can easily exceed £100,000.
Setting up an Asset Protection Trust can help reduce that contribution; for example
Esme’s father, Ronald, had been forced to sell his home to pay for care home fees when he went into care. However, Esme’s own home was owned by an Asset Protection Trust, so when Esme died suddenly from a heart attack and her husband had to go into residential care, her share of the marital home remained in trust and was available for the benefit of her children.
Immediate access to assets / funds on death
If your assets are in trust when you die the people you intend to benefit will have immediate access to trust assets (e.g., bank accounts), instead of perhaps waiting a year or more for someone to obtain probate and administer the estate.
No probate costs
The costs for obtaining probate and having the estate properly administered can run to thousands of pounds. Considered use of a lifetime trust can eliminate the need to obtain probate so it is possible to avoid those costs.
Your assets are more likely to go where intended
If you leave your estate to be sorted out on your death, certain dependants can make a claim on your estate regardless of the fact that they were not included in your Will. If your assets are placed in trust during your lifetime they cannot, except in very limited circumstances.
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 specialist Wills & Probate department can help with wills, trusts and estate planning. To discuss your requirements please contact Tom Rodgers on 01709 872106 or firstname.lastname@example.org.