“Trusts are suffering an image problem right now. There is a perception in some quarters that they represent an attempt to disguise assets from the tax authorities and that has been propagated by some of the high profile tax abuses publicised in recent years. These are totally unrelated incidents and should not discourage legitimate use of trusts, yet it appears they are being tarred with the same brush.
“Additionally, we fear that some people are being discouraged from using trusts over concerns they may not provide the level of privacy needed. We are all rightly sensitive about the way our data and information is being used and are fearful of potential breaches of privacy. Since the Trust Register was introduced tens of thousands have had to register, and that is likely to be extended to non tax paying trusts as well. It seems that some people may be dissuaded from using a trust because they’re concerned Big Brother could be using it to peer into their private affairs.
“All of this amounts to a perception issue and we fear some people may be missing out on legitimate tax planning opportunities and foregoing the chance to exercise control over how their estate is distributed. It is really important to remember that trusts are not solely about tax planning and they play a key role in helping individuals control how they pass on wealth. That could mean ensuring children cannot spend money irresponsibly, or protecting the estate from invalid claims from estranged relatives. We can all sympathise with that desire to control how your estate is distributed and it is a shame if people are being denied that opportunity.
“Anyone looking at estate planning should speak to a professional adviser to get personal advice on their options. An adviser will be able to recommend the best ways to plan ahead and ensure that passing on money to your loved ones is managed carefully and according to your wishes.”