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How Business Property Relief can help clients plan for IHT

In a survey of over 700 advisers we commissioned earlier this year, 61% had clients who had delayed financial decisions. In some cases, this involved delays to estate planning.

It’s critical that clients move forward with estate planning to prevent their loved ones from losing out. But many clients have grown increasingly worried and uncertain of the future.

More than a year on from the start of the coronavirus restrictions, some clients will have heightened concerns about how much of their wealth they need to access in later life, and how long they will live.

Business Property Relief (BPR) can offer a way to overcome these concerns, provided the client is comfortable with the additional risks, which we detail later in this article. A BPR-qualifying investment can be left free from inheritance tax when it is held for two years and at the time of death. And because it’s an investment, a client can keep access to their capital.

This article looks at some common scenarios where BPR could help.

Clients who want to do estate planning while keeping their capital in their own name

The pandemic could well have made some clients uncertain about how much of their wealth they will need in later life. Whether that’s concern about care fees or estimating their level of day-to-day spending. Clients often want as much security as possible, even when they can comfortably afford to make gifts from their estate.

With BPR, if a client’s circumstances change and they need to access it, they can request to make a withdrawal, subject to liquidity being available. By contrast, once a gift is made it is permanently out of reach.

Clients looking for a faster IHT option

Clients often think about estate planning later in life and while many like the concept of gifting, the pandemic has led some to worry more about mortality and whether the seven-year taper is simply too long to wait.

Business Property Relief (BPR), in contrast, offers relief from inheritance tax within just two years, provided certain conditions are met.

Business owners

If a client owns their own business (or a stake in one) and its activities meet the qualifying criteria for BPR, that means they should be able to pass on their shares in the business free from inheritance tax when they die.

If they sell some or all of their business, the proceeds would be subject to inheritance tax when they die. But if they use some or all of the proceeds to buy shares in another BPR-qualifying business within three years, those shares should be immediately zero-rated for inheritance tax.

Clients with a Power of Attorney in place

BPR-qualifying investments may be a suitable estate planning strategy where gifting or trust transfers are restricted or prohibited under Court of Protection rules because it is an investment that remains in the donor’s name. And unlike strategies that rely on life assurance, there is no underwriting and no medical forms to complete.

Withdrawals can be requested at any time, for example if the donor needs additional funds for care home fees. However, withdrawals are facilitated by the sale of shares and so cannot be guaranteed.