Legal advice: how to protect your wealth

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Acquiring property, updating a will or structuring assets to minimise Inheritance tax are avenues that can be explored - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

How do we maximise our legacy? Andrew Flannagan, senior partner and head of wills, trusts and probate at Hertford and Ware solicitors Attwaters Jameson Hill discusses managing wealth and tax efficiently for a prosperous future. 

High buyer demand and rampant inflation have caused the price of property and goods to soar in recent years. In 2021 property prices grew by more than 10 per cent, while salaries grew by 4.3 per cent in the three months to December alone.

This growth in wealth is set against a backdrop of tax threshold freezes, including income tax personal allowance, the inheritance tax nil-rate band, and pension annual and lifetime allowances. As salaries and estates continue to increase in value, tax thresholds will remain static, meaning that households face losing an increasing amount of their hard-earned wealth to taxation. It is little wonder, therefore, that more families than ever are seeking advice on the tax-efficient management and preservation of their wealth. 

Achieving your wealth objectives

In these complex and uncertain times, high-net-worth individuals, families, businesses owners and landowners are all seeking to accomplish one simple and straightforward goal: to achieve their objectives in managing, growing and protecting their wealth for the future. Their needs will usually span a broad range of legal practice areas, including family law, wills and probate, tax and trusts, in addition to matters relating to their residential and commercial property and the safeguarding of their business interests.  

Communication is key 

When it comes to wealth management, communication is key. For many families, however, money is not an easy topic to discuss. A key role of a legal adviser is to help their clients broach these delicate topics, and make the best legal decisions for their circumstances. Often working with multiple generations of the same family, these legal specialists will become closely acquainted with each client’s individual objectives.

They will also be accustomed to working with a range of other professionals, including tax advisers and accountants, in order to ensure a seamless, comprehensive service that takes care of all their clients’ legal and financial needs.  

Every client is individual, resulting in a unique approach to their and their family’s wealth. Whatever legal objectives an individual may have, whether this be acquiring property, updating their will or structuring their assets to minimise Inheritance tax, lawyers can help put a robust plan in place to meet these goals. 

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Passing on wealth efficiently 

For example, the inheritance tax nil rate band has been frozen at £325,000 since 2009, and will remain at this rate until at least 2026. As the value of estates continue to rise due to inflation, legal advice has become increasingly vital to enabling high-net-worth individuals to minimise their tax liabilities and maximise the wealth they are able to pass on to their beneficiaries, whether through redrafting their will, restructuring assets in trusts, lifetime gifting or other methods.  

Understanding the legal complexities

High-net-worth individuals are frequently characterised by their elaborate legal and financial affairs, with assets often held in complicated structures spanning multiple jurisdictions. Private wealth lawyers will have many years’ experience dealing with the legal complexities of wealth management, which is why instructing a specialist offers the best chance of success for wealthy clients. 

attwatersjamesonhill.co.uk