Property and personal tax – meet our expert Jo White

Published by Jo White on 24 June 2024

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The final gift any parent can give their children is a well-organised and structured estate. And increasingly that involves providing tax and financial advice to the whole family, says Jo White.

Jo is our property and personal tax Partner and heads up our Stamp Duty Land Tax service. Outside of her role as our SDLT expert, Jo also specialises in inheritance tax planning including the effective use of trusts to help ensure a family’s wealth can be maintained for future generations. 

Attitudes towards wealth and family affairs are changing. The days of elderly parents keeping their financial affairs closed to family members are rapidly disappearing as they and their children become more financially aware.

It has seen multiple generations working together with their advisers to plan the very best for the whole family, explains Jo.

The UK housing market, particularly in London and the South East, and despite the recent blip of high-interest rates, has been hot for over two decades. The Halifax House Price Index suggests that in London house prices have risen by over 230% over the last 20 years, pushing many more homeowners into the inheritance tax (IHT) net and stiff stamp duty exposure for purchasers.

And with the family home remaining for most the single most valuable asset owned it is no surprise that IHT and stamp duty are top of clients’ minds when planning for the future.

“It is still commonplace for mum and dad to start thinking about their financial legacy independently of their children but tend to quickly involve adult children in their decision-making,” explains Jo.

Jo has seen an increase in grandparents wanting to help their grandchildren, perhaps with school fees or a deposit for a house, rather than their own children. It is, she says creating a “skipped generation” who therefore want to better understand what the plans really mean.

“Most are happy for their parents to help grandchildren, but there needs to be the recognition that whilst they are under the age of 18 it will be mum and dad that will carry the administrative burden. Involving the whole family can help address that.”

Multi-generation advice is also a helpful way for elderly parents to explain in greater detail their wishes both in terms of any care they may need and what happens to their estates on their death. And that, says Jo, is an important way to reduce the risk of costly inheritance disputes.

“Disputes over an inheritance are costly and emotionally draining,” says Jo. “They can tear a family apart and are not the legacy most of us would want to leave.”

Trigger points

The starting point in all estate planning is a Will, yet it is still overlooked by a significant percentage of the adult population. Research in March last year by Canada Life suggested that one in three adults over 55 still do not have a Will.

“It can be a simple and inexpensive document to create and should be considered essential by all adults irrespective of how much their estate is worth,” explains Jo. “It should also be regularly reviewed and updated, perhaps on the arrival of grandchildren or serious illness.”

When an estate’s is valued at £2m and over it is likely that additional advice is needed. Alongside tax advice, Kreston Reeves can bring its wealth management team together providing its clients with a complete wrapper of support across the generations.

It is an approach that for business owners becomes even more valued and valuable.

“The wealth a business generates is often inextricably linked to that of the family,” explains Jo. “In addition to advising the family, it means that advice must also take into account the interests of the business. A potential sale of a business will require both corporate and personal tax advice. And Kreston Reeves can bring together the advisers that both the business and the family needs.”

As the financial landscape becomes increasingly complex it is important individuals opt for advisers that can bring families together for the benefit of everyone, and that is the role Jo and her team play.

To learn more about Jo and how our dedicated inheritance tax planning team can help your family, contact her today.

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