Importance of IHT and estate planning highlighted by untimely celebrity deaths

Numerous celebrity deaths in recent months should be taken as a stern reminder of the importance of inheritance tax (IHT) and estate planning.

Reports suggest that Star Wars actress Carrie Fisher left a $25m (£20.4m) estate behind when she passed away unexpectedly on 27 December 2017 – and that the entire estate will go to the performer’s daughter, after the actress previously took the opportunity to set up a Trust.

Meanwhile, the majority of the £105m fortune left behind by recording artist and Wham! star George Michael will be safely transferred to the singer’s sister following legal advice sought prior to his death.

However, the latest Government statistics suggest that HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) brought in a record-breaking £4.7bn in inheritance tax over the course of the 2015/16 financial year.

The figure represents more than double the amount the Revenue raised from IHT in 2008/09. Numerous studies have suggested that the upward trend in IHT takings will continue into the foreseeable future.

Singer-songwriter Prince famously passed away on 21 April 2016 without leaving behind a legally-recognised Will. As a result, not only was a huge chunk of his $300m (£237m) fortune left liable for tax, but several Will disputes and family disagreements erupted, with heirs and estranged relatives bringing numerous claims to the Courts in order to pursue a share of the singer’s fortune.

Priti Shah, Partner in OGR Stock Denton’s Private Client department, said: “This case highlights the importance of having a carefully drafted will so that the intended heirs inherit the estate in the most tax effective way possible.”

For further information about this update please contact Priti Shah on 020 8349 0321 or by email.

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