The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 (Consequential and Contrary Provisions and Scotland) and Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014 (Consequential Provisions) Order 2014

The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 (Consequential and Contrary Provisions and Scotland) and Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014 (Consequential Provisions) Order 2014.

 

In answer to a question today about whether a couple that are civil partners today, and planning to convert to marriage need to change their wills:  the effect of the subsequent marriage does not cause revocation (as it did before December 2014).

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Budget 2015 and initial thoughts.

Budget statement in pdf from Inland Revenue

Some of the things I think this means.

Terms:

Although this refers to a “main residence nil rate band” the personal representatives can elect for any property owned and lived in by the deceased to count as the residence for this purpose.  The term is not related to the main residence or Principal Private Residence.  Potentially, each spouse could have a separate private residence, therefore.

The residence nil rate band (which if someone else has not already labelled it thus, I shall call it the “RNRB”) can be transferred to a spouse and remain intact.  This applies no matter when the first death occurs, so long as the second death occurs after the start of the tax year 2017-18.

The RNRB might end up, therefore, also being called the TRNRB when claimed on the death of the second spouse. There will be new additional forms to complete in addition to the IHT402 and the IHT217.  There will need to be new evidential burdens to show that a recipient falls within the class of acceptable beneficiaries called “descendants”.

The NRB as we know and love it applies at the current rate until the tax year 2021-2 commences.  It applies to all transfers whether intervivos or on death.

The RNRB applies only where there is a residential property in which the deceased has resided (or the spouse of the deceased???) and where the “proceeds of sale of that property” or the property itself pass to a linear descendant of the deceased (or of the deceased’s former spouse??).  The bits in brackets are where I am less certain of the detail.  One thing is clear – the definition of what is considered “linear descendants” is different from the standard definition of “issue” or “bloodline” since it includes not only the usual adopted children and children of the bloodline but also step children and foster children.

Things I am not sure about:

I don’t understand quite how you can quantify the foster children – but perhaps it is possible to prove that an individual is a foster child or has been one at any date.  Similarly, step children.  But then again, this gives an allowance for those children, rather than penalising them or giving them an entitlement.

I am not sure about the “proceeds of sale” aspect of things.  The Inland Revenue states that identifying what has been the proceeds of sale of a family home and making sure that there is a credit for this will be something that will be the subject of a consultation paper shortly.  Presumably, there is some paperwork required for Inheritance Tax purposes on the sale of a family home – so where downsizing from any home worth less than £2,400,000 is potentially eligible for this – so as to preserve the relief on this home.  This will be something that all conveyancing solicitors will need to know about as well, since otherwise it would not be something that would be mentioned to the client.  Few clients associate the sale of their home with the need to consider how it fits in with estate planning.

Does this now mean that flexible life interest trusts now need to be altered so as to take account of this potential future relief?  A “FLIT” by which I mean a discretionary trust, subject to a prior life interest.  I think it does.  Because the whole flexibility of these relies on the discretionary trust *not* being an individual or descendant.  Time to review these I think, and adjust expectations and drafting accordingly.

I think the new legislation means that (at least initially) if you are worth £2.4 million or more, then this RNRB is useless to you.

I also think this means that if you are selling up so that you can free up capital to make potentially exempt transfers, then you have to weigh up carefully whether doing so means that you will lose out on the RNRB.  The RNRB *only* applies on death, and does not apply to PETS that become chargeable.  Worst case scenario is that you free up funds, give some away to your children and do not survive the seven years.  When I say “some”, I mean if you give away more than one Nil Rate Band’s worth of gifts.  So – PETs will have to be limited to below £325,000 for each individual donor if they are within 7 years of death, or statistically likely to be so.  Or in other words, there is no such limitation, but without advice on the pros and cons, the decision should not be taken without, for example, more seriously considering term life insurance, in the very least.

 

In conclusion:

Possibilities of legal involvement in people’s affairs seem to have increased.  And in a way that doesn’t seem right – why should the taxpayer be hemmed in at every turn?  Why not just increase the whole of the NRB to £500,000 each – and not have this extra complication?  What about those childless couples who want to leave their money to nieces and nephews?  Why is this budget not making it easier for the rich to pay tax, rather than harder for the middle income people to manage the burden of it?  This extra complexity just means more work for the civil servants, more bad luck for the childless, more work for lawyers, more fees for professional advice.   And the extra complexity is not actually needed – it doesn’t close any major loopholes or planning issues where “clever lawyers/accountants” have been finding “loopholes”.

A same-sex marriage by civil partners does not revoke wills after December 2014

Wills for civil partners not revoked on conversion:  A new government regulation amends the Wills Act 1837 which states that marriage revokes all wills:  in the case of a previously existing civil partnership, a same-sex marriage will not have the effect of revoking wills that were written whilst the couples were registered civil partners.  This regulation will come into force in December 2014

Tribute and the Wedding Gift

Weddings are both a time of celebrating, where a beautiful couple decide to make a declaration to each other that they will stick together through thick and thin. And the declaration is in front of friends and family (and sometimes colleagues) and published appropriately. Being married creates a contract that is witnessed before numerous people, which is as much kept by the parties to it, as it is sheltered by social norms.

A more jaded person might think that any time between May and September is wedding season, and judge just how expensive a wedding might be. Not only for the nuptial pair, but for all the rest. How many times can you wear that wedding hat? And can you really afford to attend seven weddings in a year, where the gift list ranges from the Denby cups and saucers through to the Villeroy & Boch and all the way through to the very best of wedding ranges on offer. Being a guest at a wedding can involve an outlay from £100 through to many thousands. The wedding lists can be enormously revealing – how can the happy couple expect to manage without silver napkin rings from Tiffany ?  At what point does a gift become just the price tag for entry, the tribute to be rendered?

In ancient times, of course, the wedding of two people was the moment when they set up house together for the first time, when they left the home of their parents. In more recent centuries, a couple would have to work towards their “bottom drawer” of items for the new home. Making quilts for the bed was part of the way that friends and relatives could make a contribution, if you came from humbler stock, and wanted to wish the new couple well. Perhaps in previous decades even, the items commonly bought for the happy day was limited by the technology available – the automatic pop-up toaster was not patented until 1919, and so cannot have featured before then – the microwave, breadmaker, smoothie maker, vacuum cleaner, fridge, freezer, and electronic food processor also being recent inventions.

What might have been more important in those times would be the financial security of the couple – perhaps in a time when marriages left one party more financially vulnerable than the other. Marriage settlements safeguarding the assets of the female party were common amongst those who had significant assets to preserve.

Inheritance Tax legislation has existed in many guises, and has preserved a special category of gifts for the wedding event, but some might think that the allowances given do not reflect the size of gifts that are expected (moneysavingexpert
reported the average price of a wedding as £20,000 for this year)

These specific gifts are called those in contemplation of marriage, defined in section 22 IHTA:

  • a parent of a child to the marriage may give £5000
  • a grandparent or remoter ancestor £2500
  • a party to the marriage, £2,500
  • If you are not related to the parties getting married, £1000

When it comes down to what counts as a gift for this exemption, then clearly, proving retrospectively that a gift is made in this way requires a nexus between the event and the gift that is reasonable. For example, the delivery of presents to the home of the bride and groom two weeks after the event would be in contemplation of the marriage, on the basis that the event can clearly be tied to the item transferred. However, the gift of a cheque that did not clear the bank until three months after the marriage might not – as it might be unclear that this was a gift made for the marriage. The payment of the invoice for the cake might be closely connected with the wedding as to form part of a wedding-gift. Payment for a late honeymoon trip might not, if it cannot be distinguished from an ordinary holiday.

To err on the side of safety, all cheques to the couple should probably be presented and have cleared by the date of the wedding or civil partnership. You might keep a record of your gift card to the happy couple for later reference.

If you spend more than £5000 on your son’s civil partnership, as one of the more honoured guests, you might have to use your annual exemption for gifts (ss19 IHTA) to the total. This could give you up to £6,000, if you did not use the previous year’s allowance. As this allowance relates to you as an individual, then potentially there might be four parents with their allowances intact.