Gifts, Tribute and Taxes

In my family, where there are important gifts to be made, gift giving is noted formally, and full notes are kept.  For this purpose, when I’m talking about gifts, I mean a gift of money or items that have a resale value that is relatively substantial – and which has a meaning for Inheritance Tax – since the particular giver (aka donor) is someone who might be expected to have an estate that would suffer inheritance tax on death.

In my own circumstances, where there are children who share one parent, but not both, recording gifts has also been a way of making sure that the pattern of giving is fair.

Fair is a subjective term – of course it is.  Children born earlier may be fully “paid for” by the time a person dies.  Children (and of course grandchildren) born later may not be so.  To keep things fair is a difficult subject.  What is fair to one might not be to another.  What makes judging these things so hard is that usually, no records are kept.

Not in my particular family – largely because my father is very familiar with family disputes and inheritance tax law, having been a succession and tax lawyer for many decades.

Being a person who likes to understand the principle of equity and to practice what he preaches, he has devised a way of making sure that all his children understand the impact of the gifts that have been given over the years and the exemptions that cover each gift, so that in the event of his death, his executors have an easier time of it, and that if there are any disputes (polite or otherwise) between his heirs, at least there are some documents to back up the process.  On the basis that knowledge can give you truth, if not happiness.

If the role of being a child is to learn from a parent, then this is something that I hope to be able to use – in the role of a lawyer learning from another in the same field, I would also like to take this on board. 

And tribute?  That’s the way the family choose to look at an enforced gift – one that has to be made, for social or other purposes.  Like gifts for a wedding…  or gifts on the occasion of an event that is made popular by greetings card manufacturers.  It does have the feel of an individual approaching a tribal leader, laden down with gold and silver, spices and fine goods, to impress or placate.  On reflection, that is rather like the wedding gift table.


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