Monthly Archives: November 2015

Residential Nil Rate Band – Planning actions for estates worth more than £2,000,000

Those with estates worth over £2,000,000 will begin to lose out on the new Residential Nil Rate Band. The new allowance is ‘tapered’ away at a rate of £1 for every £2 that your estate is over £2,000,000.

For example, if your estate was worth £2.1m, you would lose £50,000 of the new Residential Nil Rate Band.

While this is clearly unwelcome news for those with larger estates, it does present some significant planning opportunities.

For example, if a couple had an estate worth £2.2m, they would lose £100,000 of their Residential Nil Rate Band, increasing their inheritance tax bill by £40,000.

If considered planning via trusts or qualifying investments was used to bring the estate back under £2m, not only would the £200,000 excess be outside of the estate for tax purposes, but the full Residential Nil Rate bade could be re-claimed.

Estates of this size should also consider other estate planning and succession actions to ensure that the maximum value can be passed down to future generations.

Our estate planning seminars cover all of the topics outlined above, as well as some other innovative methods by which you can preserve and protect your estate. The events are free to attend and you can book your place here.

Residential Nil Rate Band – Planning actions for estates worth more than £500,000 (unmarried) or £1,000,000 (Married), but less than £2,000,000

People in this category stand to gain significantly from the new legislation, however careful planning is required to ensure that you gain the maximum benefit.

Estates of this size are likely to be facing an inheritance tax liability, despite the introduction of the Residential Nil Rate Band, however this should be significantly reduced.

Some wills created historically contained what is known as a ‘nil rate band’ trust. The use of this type of trust has the potential to cause the Residential Nil Rate Band to be lost, as the transfer of the assets would be to the trust and not to direct descendants. It would be good practice to review you will for the presence of a nil rate band trust.

Your direct descendants (i.e children or grandchildren) will need to be the ones who inherit the residential home to qualify for the new relief. Does your current will meet these criteria?

Consideration should be given to other inheritance tax planning actions that could reduce the inheritance tax liability further or eliminate it altogether. This could include the use of lifetime trusts or qualifying investments.

Our estate planning seminars cover all of the above topics in detail and are free to attend. You can book your place here.

Residential Nil Rate Band – Planning actions for estates worth more than £325,000 but less than £500,000 (unmarried) or more than £650,000 but less than £1,000,000 (married couple)

People in this bracket are well placed to make full use of the new Residential Nil Rate Band, so long as the correct planning is put in place.

In effect, people in this category who own a residential home worth at least £175,000 (unmarried) or £350,000 (married couple) and who have children, should be in a position to pass their estate down to their direct descendants with no inheritance tax to pay.

There are however, a number of potential pitfalls to look out for as follows:

Some wills created historically contained what is known as a ‘nil rate band’ trust. The use of this type of trust has the potential to cause the Residential Nil Rate Band to be lost, as the transfer of the assets would be to the trust and not to direct descendants. It would be good practice to review you will for the presence of a nil rate band trust.

Your direct descendants (i.e children or grandchildren) will need to be the ones who inherit the residential home to qualify for the new relief. Does your current will meet these criteria?

We are running a series of free estate planning seminars where you can learn more about the new Residential Nil Rate Band and how to avoid some common mistakes.

Residential Nil Rate Band – Planning Actions for Estates Worth Less Than £325,000 (unmarried) or £650,000 (married couple)

The introduction of the new Residential Nil Rate Band is unlikely to effect people in this bracket, so long as the estate is forecast to remain below these limits (which have now been frozen again until at least 2021) for the foreseeable future.

For those who are expecting their estate to increase over and above these limits, additional planning may be required. We would suggest that you attend one of our free estate planning seminars to learn more about the Residential Nil Rate Band and how to avoid some common mistakes.

As a matter of course, it is good practice to review your will every 5 years or so to ensure that it fully reflects your wishes and remains up to date with current legislation.

People in this category may still wish to consider the use of trusts to protect their family assets, despite the absence of large tax advantages.

The Insanity of ‘Predicting’ Markets

I have followed the recent commentary on the decision by the Bank of England to hold interest rates at their current lows yet again with some interest. Of particular note was not the decision to hold interest rates for the month of November (which was widely expected), but more the ‘forward guidance’ that we should not be expecting an interest rate rise for even longer than the markets had been expecting (perhaps as far as late 2016, or, dare I say it, early 2017).

As usual, various media outlets jumped on the story, commenting that even the Monetary Policy Committee or MPC (the people who actually make the decisions to change rates) actually had no idea when rates were going to rise. This came as no surprise to me at all. The MPC will make their decisions each month based on the information that they have available to them at the time. This information is constantly changing and evolving as world events, new economic reports and various geopolitical developments unfold. As such, it should come as no surprise that the people in charge of setting rates often change their minds because the information on which they base their decisions is changing constantly too.

Which brings me onto the topic of trying to predict markets. There are numerous industry ‘experts’ that voice their views on the future direction of markets and how the economy will evolve over time. Given that interest rates are such a key component of the economic activity of a country, they tend to feature quite heavily in the ‘experts’ analysis.

This begs an interesting question to me … If the people who actually have full control over setting rates have no idea when they are going to change, how do the rest of us have any hope and more importantly, how accurate can any ‘prediction’ ever be.

I recently reviewed an academic study on this topic and the results were fairly unsurprising. When we look back on previous predictions made by ‘experts’ in the financial field and see if they came true, you could just as well flip a coin. Approximately 50% of them were correct and 50% incorrect.

So which will it be, heads or tails?

We feel that a far better approach is to design a strong long-term asset allocation and stick to it, rather than trying to ‘time’ or ‘beat’ the markets because, surely if the insiders don’t know what’s going to happen, the rest of us have no hope at all.