The Daily Mail has recently revealed that Sir Bruce Forsyth, the beloved TV presenter whose career spanned seven decades, left his entire estate to his wife Wilnelia in his Will, before he passed away last year at the age of 89.
Having inherited an estate worth almost eleven and a half million pounds, we can be sure that Wilnelia will be very well taken care of for the rest of her life. This will come as no surprise to many, since it is well known that Sir Bruce and Wilnelia were a very devoted couple. It is only natural that a loving husband should do everything he can to provide for his widow after his passing.
What did come as a surprise, however, is that Sir Bruce chose to leave nothing to his six children, who he enjoyed good relationships with. This inevitably led the press to speculate as to why he chose to do this..
Without wanting to speculate too deeply, it is believed that Sir Bruce’s main motivation for cutting his children out of his Will is likely to be inheritance tax planning. Like many people, Sir Bruce was critical of the current Inheritance Tax regime and believed that people who have worked hard all their lives should be free to pass their wealth on to their loved ones and not the State. The Daily Mail article was followed by a string of angry comments endorsing that same view point.
Inheritance tax has always been controversial. Like it or not, however, it’s here to stay. And it’s not just multi-millionaire celebrities who need to watch out for it. The starting point is that estates are taxed at a flat rate of 40% for any value above the threshold figure of £325,000. Depending on the precise value of your estate, your beneficiaries could stand to lose a lot of money.
Even if you’re not a rich celebrity or business owner, you could still find yourself hovering near or just above the threshold figure. Many people don’t realise that because of the general upward trend in house valuations, a property bought for a relatively modest price a couple of decades ago may now be worth two or three hundred thousand pounds. The value of the rest of the assets you own will be added to the value of the house. This has led to quite a few instances where people have unwittingly ended up being liable for Inheritance Tax.
There are, however, huge advantages to being married or in a civil partnership when it comes to inheritance tax. Depending on the value of the estate, the vast majority of married couples do not have to pay any Inheritance Tax on money or property left to them by their spouse. The rules for couples mean that it is usually best for a husband and wife to leave everything to each other, rather than to any children. Having inherited the estate, there is nothing to stop the surviving spouse from making gifts to the children during their lifetime. Such gifts will not attract Inheritance Tax provided they survive each gift by 7 years.
Finally, it seems Sir Bruce did not leave it until the last minute to put measures into place. We know that his last Will was drawn up in 2005, which was some twelve years before his death.
A good estate plan has to be tailored to the individual or a couple. Everyone’s circumstances are unique and what suited Sir Bruce might not suit another person, however he died knowing that this wishes would be carried out the way he wanted them to. Having a Will gives you and your family certainty.
To discuss drawing up a Will, Inheritance Tax or any other aspect of estate planning, speak to one of our specialist team today. Regardless of your individual circumstances, the time to act is now!