‘Ring-fencing’ assets to protect family wealth for future generations
Trusts are used to protect family wealth for future generations, reducing the inter-generational flow of Inheritance Tax and ensuring bloodline protection for your estate from outside claims. The way in which assets held within Trusts are treated for Inheritance Tax purposes depends on whether the choice of beneficiaries is fixed or discretionary.
Bare Trusts are also known as ‘Absolute’ or ‘Fixed Interest Trusts’, and there can be subtle differences. The settlor – the person creating the Trust – makes a gift into the Trust which is held for the benefit of a specified beneficiary. If the Trust is for more than one beneficiary, each person’s share of the Trust fund must be specified.
With a Discretionary Trust, the settlor makes a gift into Trust, and the trustees hold the Trust fund for a wide class of potential beneficiaries. This is known as ‘settled’ or ‘relevant’ property. For lump sum investments, the initial gift is a chargeable lifetime transfer for Inheritance Tax purposes.
Discretion over which of the default and potential beneficiaries actually benefit
FlexibleTrusts are similar to a fully Discretionary Trust, except that alongside a wide class of potential beneficiaries, there must be at least one named default beneficiary. Flexible Trusts with default beneficiaries set up in the settlor’s lifetime from 22 March 2006 onwards are treated in exactly the same way as Discretionary Trusts for Inheritance Tax purposes.
These Trusts are often used for family protection policies with critical illness or terminal illness benefits in addition to life cover. Split Trusts can be Bare Trusts, Discretionary Trusts, or Flexible Trusts with default beneficiaries. When using this type of Trust, the settlor/life assured carves out the right to receive any critical illness or terminal illness benefit from the outset, so there aren’t any gift with reservation issues.