Don’t lock away your legacy

Graeme Hills, director and head of legal services

It’s a natural human instinct to want to provide for your family, not just as your children grow up, fly the nest and start families of their own but after you’re gone too. However it’s often easy to lose sight of how much your money would be worth to your children.

As head of legal services at Duncan & Toplis, I regularly help people make plans for their legacy. When I sit down with a client for our first meeting, many express their desire to save as much as possible for their descendants. There’s nothing wrong with this; in many ways it’s a wonderful gesture, but sometimes these clients put their desire to leave a large legacy above their own happiness and well-being, and that’s something I try to discourage. After all, locking too much of your money away will only upset you and your children, who’ll want you to live life to the full.

You don’t have to scrimp and save to still leave a generous legacy. A few thousand pounds can be transformative; it can be enough to put a grandchild through university or help a young family buy their first home. Not to mention that giving gifts away during your lifetime means you can watch your children enjoy some of their inheritance.

Inheritance and tax regulations are complex and constantly changing, and if you’re attempting to plan this yourself, it can seem like a minefield in which you’ll inevitably lose most of your savings. With the help of a professional accountant however, you’ll find that it’s actually very easy to plan and protect a life-changing legacy. 

There are simple, ethical steps you can take to protect your money, whether it’s by setting up trusts, a family investment company or planning gifts and donations to reduce your taxable assets.

Inheritance tax, care home fees and funeral costs will reduce the sum that you can leave behind, but there’s no need for making unnecessary sacrifices now. Not every client is alike, and sometimes family relationships can be damaged by inheritance planning that doesn’t meet a person’s needs. This is why inheritance plans have to be right for you, and you alone. Planning for an inheritance can easy if you have the right help.

If you’d like some advice about inheritance planning, our probate team will be happy to help you.