Gifting property and assets in your lifetime
13 May, 2021
Older clients often seek our advice as to the advantages and disadvantages of transferring their home or other property to relatives, even though in some cases they still intend to live in the home. Our advice will of course vary, according to your individual circumstances, your motivation for making such a gift, and what you are hoping to achieve by it.
The Law Society is aware of a number of non-solicitor legal advice services, which are marketing schemes to elderly people to make a gift of property to avoid the value of that property being taken into account if the elderly person pays residential care fees. Some make unjustified claims as to the effectiveness of their schemes, or fail to take into account the individual circumstances of clients. You should always obtain proper legal advice and be aware of the risks of using unqualified advisers.
Before making the gift it is important that you should think about a number of issues, including but not limited to:
- What is the reason for making the gift
- That you are making an outright gift rather than, say, a loan
- Whether you expect to receive anything in return (for example, someone who is giving away their house might expect to be able to carry on living there rent free for the rest of their life: but who pays for the bills and repairs?)
- That, if the gift is outright, you can’t ask for the money or property to be returned to you
- The effect that making the gift could have on your future standard of living
- The effect that the gift could have on other members of your family who might have expected to inherit a share of the money or property
- The possibility that the recipient could die first or become involved in divorce or bankruptcy proceedings in which case the money or property given away could end up belonging to somebody else
- That you and the recipient could fall out, and even become quite hostile to one another
- If you eventually need nursing care but no longer have the resources to pay the fees yourself because of the gift, the local authority may only pay for a basic level of care so you may be dependent on relatives to top up the fees
- The value of the home or other assets gifted away could still be taken into account in means-testing, since the anti-avoidance measures in the law enable some gifts to be ignored and even set aside by the court. Not only are these measures subject to change from time to time, but it is also unclear how far authorities will go in order to pursue contributions they believe to be owing to them.
- It is possible that the property or assets given away could still be counted for Inheritance Tax when you die, if the gift with reservation of benefit rules apply
Storrar Cowdry can help you by representing your interests, helping you to understand your objectives, advising you on the implications and any alternatives and putting your objectives into effect.
At Storrar Cowdry our office is open for those clients who wish to meet face to face (subject to local lockdown restrictions in force). We have social distancing and PPE procedures in place. We can visit you at home if that is your best option. We are also meeting with many of our clients via technology platforms such as zoom.
For further information about Estate Planning, Wills and Trusts please contact Gill Knowles on 01244 400567 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org