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We have often alerted firms to potential new income streams from work which would have gone elsewhere, providing sources of new revenue while taking up little or no partner and manager time.

The Will Bank Opportunity by John L Douglas - Published in The Journal of the Law Society of Scotland 17th July 2017

In association with Finesco: legal firms and their clients can both benefit from a review of the firm’s will bank by

Regularly reviewing your firm’s will bank greatly enhances the service provided to your clients whilst providing a source of recurrent income.

On a personal level, clients may have many reasons to amend their wills. Beneficiaries, executors or trustees may be added or removed due to births, deaths, marriages, divorces or myriad of other changes in circumstances.... the possibilities are endless! However, once made, wills are often forgotten and so a timely prompt from a legal adviser can be invaluable.

From a taxation perspective regular reviews also enhance planning by responding to legislative changes – clients may remove a redundant nil rate band trust (or debate its merits), or perhaps make or increase charitable bequests to reduce tax to 36%. The main residence nil rate band offers further opportunities.

However sublimely a will is worded, when it is invoked most planning opportunities have been lost. Encouraging clients to prepare a “draft inventory” alongside the will helps identify any early steps that could reduce the potential inheritance tax burden.

Working closely with an experienced financial adviser, solicitors can help their clients mitigate estate taxes inter vivos. This may involve making gifts and there are valuable concessions where funds leave the estate immediately – the small gifts exemption, annual gifting exemption, gifts on marriage and gifts from income in excess of normal expenditure. The latter can fund life cover to meet a future inheritance tax liability, or fund Junior ISAs, New Lifetime ISAs and even pension plans for grandchildren!

For larger sums, a trust may be suitable. Many clients baulk at making large lifetime gifts, but some structures reserve a high degree of access:

loan trust;
carve out (e.g. discounted gift) trust;
flexible reversionary trust.

However, substantial gifts take seven years to leave the estate, which is a concern for older clients. An investment that receives business property relief may also be attractive – it is free of tax after just two years, although tolerance of investment risk is critical and again expert financial advice can offer valuable guidance. The use of a family investment company also offers creative taxation possibilities.

Through early planning opportunities such as these, solicitors and financial advisers can create and develop regular will review systems to help clients maximise their assets for their intended beneficiaries.
John L Douglas DipIP

This article can also be viewed on The Journal of the Law Society of Scotland website here.

John is Senior Consultant with Finesco and has been in the financial services industry for over 34 years and a consultant with Finesco since 1987. He has amassed considerable experience in dealing with professional intermediaries and is highly regarded by accountants and solicitors throughout the UK as a specialist wealth and financial adviser fully conversant with taxation, legislation and the financial services marketplace. John has been a speaker at conferences and courses for over 30 years and regularly comments on both BBC and commercial radio and television programmes as a financial expert on topical matters of a financial nature.

t: +44(0)141 332 3113; fax +44(0)141 331 2039; e:
John is presenting a webinar for CPD purposes on 23 August, entitled “Fact Finds, Balance Sheets and Inventories”. Click here for further information.

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