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Trust treatment

 

The passing of the Finance Act on July 19 has created greater certainty for IFAs and their clients about the treatment of trusts under the new inheritance tax regime which has led to offshore insurers withdrawing, launching and relaunching trusts.

Standard Life head of estate planning Julie Hutchison says the company has relaunched its bare and flexible trusts. She says: “There are two types for each of these trusts – gift and loan plans. We have not relaunched our discounted gift trust but will do so later this year.”Effectively, loan trusts have not been affected by the new IHT regime. When settlors pay money into a loan trust, it is not subject to the 20 per cent tax. This is because it is a loan, does not leave the settlor’s estate and therefore does not have any value under the new tax regime.”The attraction of loan trusts is that capital growth within the trust is outside the estate and therefore free from IHT but Hutchison warns that if the capital growth is worth more than the nil-rate band, then this is subject to the 6 per cent tax every 10 years.For investors who do not need flexibility, Hutchison says they can use bare or absolute trusts, which are treated like an outright gift. If the settlor lives for at least seven years after making a gift into a bare trust, then it is free from IHT under a potentially exempt transfer. There is no limit on how much can be transferred into a bare trust.Scottish Life International technical manager Gerry Brown suggests that investors will start their IHT planning earlier so they can take advantage of their nil-rate band every seven years.The company has closed its nil-rate band trust because it is not as advantageous as before the March Budget.Traditionally, the plan used the spouse exemption and provided access for the surviving wife or husband to the trust fund. The trustees had the power to pass the trust fund on to children or grandchildren but this arrangement will now face the 20 per cent initial and 10-year anniversary 6 per cent tax charges.Brown says ScotLife International has also withdrawn its probate trust as it is caught by the new IHT regime.He says: “This was not used for IHT planning but was intended to avoid probate costs. It has been particularly popular for British expatriates so they did not need to conduct probate in each jurisdiction in which they had assets.” The firm is looking at launching two alternatives.Scottish Life International also has loan and discounted gift trusts. The discounted gift plan is based on an interest in possession trust. Brown says the firm will launch a discounted gift plan based on a bare trust as well. This will be less flexible as beneficiaries can, in theory, gain access to the trust fund at 18 and the beneficiaries cannot be changed. But settlors can benefit from Pets on bare trusts.Axa Isle of Man technical director Graeme Easton, says discounted gift trusts offer settlors greater flexibility than other trusts over how much money they can gift. A settlor pays money into a discounted gift trust and gets capital payments every year.For example, if a 60-year-old male in normal health pays £500,000 into trust and wants £25,000 a year payments, then the value of their rights is £290,000, which is the discount. This £290,000 immediately leaves the settlor’s estate. The money in the trust not set aside for these capital payments, in this case £210,000, was, under the pre-Budget regime, free from IHT if the settlor lived for seven years after establishing the settlement.Under the new regime, assuming a discretionary trust is used, the immediate IHT charge would only be levied on the £210,000 if it exceeded the nil-rate band. This enables settlors to invest more than the nil-rate band without suffering an immediate tax charge.Easton says Axa has launched two discounted gift trusts, one based on a discretionary trust and the other on a bare trust. He says capital guarantees have also been added.Under the discretionary trust, settlors do not have to name beneficiaries. Beneficiaries are fixed under the bare trust, which still falls under the old Pet regime.Easton says: “Some clients want to take advantage of the flexibility of the discretionary trust whereas others want the bare trust so they have the freedom to place as much money as they want within the trust.”Axa has also relaunched its loan trust to be based on a discretionary trust rather than the previous interest in possession trust.Easton says: “We have decided against offering a product based on a bare trust. This is because of the potential conflict of interest between the settlor and beneficiaries.”Axa’s probate trust has been withdrawn and Easton says the company is working on offering an alternative.Norwich Union International was working on streamlining its trust proposition, says head of trusts and tax planning Deborah Moon, when the new IHT regime was announced in the Budget.She says NUI’s trust range will be relaunched in the next few months. The nil-rate band trust is no longer being offered but the existing gift, discounted gift, loan, probate and excluded property trusts will continue to be offered as interest in possession trusts.”We may move to full discretionary trusts at some point but since the IHT treatment for new trusts is the same for both, there is no obvious need to take this step with any urgency,” says Moon.NUI is planning to offer a new bare gift trust so settlors can take advantage of the Pet regime. It also plans to offer a bare discounted gift trust so settlors can create a Pet and retain the right to an income stream, which is typically 5 per cent of the initial amount invested.Prudential offers three absolute or bare trusts and an excluded property trust for non-domiciled individuals. Since the Budget, the firm has discontinued three gift trusts, a loan trust, a nil-rate band trust and a probate trust. Prudential says it will augment its trust range over the next two to three months.Royal Skandia has discounted gift, excluded property, probate, interest in possession, gift and loan and bare trusts.The discounted gift trust is only available as an interest in possession trust. The rest of the range is available as an interest in possession and a discretionary trust. The company says it is reviewing its offshore trust range with a view to expanding it.

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