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Deed of variation – not just to save inheritance tax

Piggy bank which is full, coins spilling over to the side

The usual reason for entering into a deed varying a will within 2 years of death, is to secure an inheritance tax reduction or to skip a generation so that a gift is removed from an affluent beneficiary and diverted to his impecunious children.

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Ken Dodd – tax efficient to the last

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No-one can avoid death or taxes but Ken Dodd at least managed to minimize the latter in his final days.  The key of course was marrying his long-time partner and instantly getting the benefit of total exemption from inheritance tax as a result of the spouse exemption.  He would of course have had to make a will immediately after the marriage, or may be just before but in contemplation of the marriage, because otherwise Ken’s late entry into matrimony would have cancelled any previous wills, even if they were in favour of the partner.

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The latest on the residential nil-rate band

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According to press reports it seems a strong possibility that certain estates have not been claiming this extra inheritance tax allowance which applies when residential property is left to the children (including step-children and adopted children) and to grandchildren or other direct descendants.  The provisions governing its application are complex.  Possibly those administering estates themselves without expert assistance are missing out. 

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Executors – don’t forget to investigate gifts

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Most people know that if you fail to survive a gift by 7 years it will form part of your estate.  It is likely that banks will co-operate with HMRC if the tax men are suspicious about whether gifts have been properly declared.  An investigation could follow that will be uncomfortable for executors and could mean additional tax and fines as well. 

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When should you review your will?

When should you review your will

As a general guide we advise clients to review their wills as a matter of course every 5 years but there are some life-changing events which should prompt anyone to bring a possible change to the top of his or her agenda and they are:- getting married or divorced, having children, the death of one of your beneficiaries or an executor or guardian, a substantial financial change – for example a business sale or similar, and more common perhaps, moving house.

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