15th May 2024

3 useful options you may want to consider when passing on assets to your loved ones

By Jane Patrick

There’s more than one way to pass on wealth to your family. Which option is right for you could depend on a range of factors, from whether your loved ones could benefit from support now to the implications of Inheritance Tax (IHT).

Read on to find out what you might want to consider when passing on assets using three different methods.

  1. Gifting during your lifetime

Providing gifts to loved ones during your lifetime is becoming an increasingly popular option. With younger generations often facing financial challenges, a gift now could provide greater security than if they received an inheritance later in life.

Being able to support your loved ones when they need it most is a key benefit of gifting during your lifetime. It could mean your family can get on the property ladder, pursue further education, or simply manage their budget more effectively.

Many young people rely on family to reach milestones. Research from the Institute for Fiscal Studies found that around half of first-time buyers in their 20s received some financial help. Not only did this allow them to buy a home, but it could improve their finances over the long term, especially if they were able to access a lower mortgage interest rate as a result.

In addition, gifting during your lifetime could be useful if your estate may be liable for IHT.

Gifts that were given more than seven years before you passed away are not usually included in your estate for IHT purposes. Some gifts, including up to £3,000 in the 2024/25 tax year, are considered immediately outside of your estate when calculating IHT.

As a result, you could gift assets to reduce the overall value of your estate to mitigate or reduce an IHT bill.

In 2024/25, the nil-rate band is £325,000 – if the entire value of your estate is below this threshold, no IHT will be due. If your estate exceeds this threshold there are often other allowances and steps you may take to reduce the bill. Please contact us if your estate could be liable for IHT.

Whether you want to gift a lump sum or lend regular financial support, there are some key areas you may want to consider before you put your hand in your pocket, including:

  • How could taking wealth out of your estate now affect your long-term financial security?
  • As you’ll be gifting assets during your lifetime, will it affect the inheritances you leave behind for loved ones?

Financial planning could help you assess the implications of gifting to help you understand if it’s the right option for you.

  1. Passing on assets in a will

Leaving assets to your loved ones when you pass away is the traditional way to pass on wealth, and it’s an option that’s still right for many people.

It might be attractive because you want to leave a legacy to your beneficiaries. It could provide a wealth boost to your family later in their life and might be used to support a range of aspirations, like retiring early or sending your grandchildren to private school.

A legacy could also be a good option if you’re worried that gifting during your lifetime could affect your financial security in your later years.

If you want to leave assets to your loved ones when you pass away, it’s important to write a will – it’s a way to state how you’d like your assets to be distributed. If you die without a will, your assets will be passed on according to intestacy rules, which may not align with your wishes.

However, there are drawbacks you might need to consider when leaving assets in a will.

Among them is whether the financial boost will come too late in the lives of your family. If they’re struggling financially now, could receiving some or all their inheritance before you pass away be more beneficial?

Again, it might also be useful to consider if your estate could be liable for IHT when you’re writing a will. If you’re proactive, there are often steps you can take to reduce an eventual bill.

  1. Using a trust to hold assets

A trust is a legal arrangement to pass on assets where a trustee manages assets on behalf of the beneficiary according to the trust deed, which allows you, as the “settlor”, to set how the assets in the trust should be used and when.

There are many reasons why you might choose to use a trust, including to:

  • Retain greater control over assets you pass on
  • Pass on assets to young children or vulnerable adults
  • Allow you to pass on assets but still benefit from them during your lifetime
  • Preserve wealth for future generations
  • Mitigate an IHT bill.

One of the key benefits of a trust is that you can state how the assets are used. So, if you have a clear idea about how you’d like your loved ones to use the wealth you give them, it’s an option you may want to consider. For example, you could create a trust on behalf of your grandchild and state that it’s to be used for education purposes during their childhood, and they can then access the assets once they reach a certain age.

There are several different types of trusts and, once they’re set up, they can be difficult or impossible to reverse. As a result, you might want to seek legal advice when creating a trust to discuss your objectives and whether it’s the right option for you.

Contact us to set up your estate plan

You don’t have to just select one of the options covered in this article. You might choose to pass on some of your wealth now, but leave the rest of it through a will. Or you might decide to gift assets to some loved ones but use a trust for others, such as young children.

A complete estate plan might encompass more than how you’ll pass on assets to loved ones. You might also want to consider what steps you could take to improve your security if you needed care later in life, how to mitigate a potential IHT bill, set out your funeral wishes, and more.

Please contact us to talk about how to prepare for your later years and discuss how we could help you put an estate plan that reflects your wishes in place.

Please note: This blog is for general information only and does not constitute advice. The information is aimed at retail clients only.

The Financial Conduct Authority does not regulate estate planning or Inheritance Tax planning.