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The Pros and Cons of Trusts for Inheritance Tax Planning: A Comprehensive Guide

UK Property Accountants
The Pros and Cons of Trusts for Inheritance Tax Planning: A Comprehensive Guide

The Pros and Cons of Trusts for Inheritance Tax Planning: A Comprehensive Guide


Inheritance tax planning is a crucial aspect of managing your wealth. One popular method is the use of trusts. But what are the pros and cons of trusts for inheritance tax planning?

This article will delve into the intricacies of trusts, their benefits, and potential drawbacks. We'll also provide the latest data and insights to help you make an informed decision.

What is a Trust?

A trust is a legal arrangement where one person (the 'settlor') transfers assets to another person (the 'trustee') to hold for the benefit of a third person (the 'beneficiary'). Trusts are a versatile tool in estate planning, offering a range of benefits but also carrying some potential disadvantages.

The Role of Trusts in Inheritance Tax Planning

Trusts play a pivotal role in inheritance tax planning. They provide a legal framework that allows for the efficient transfer of assets, potentially reducing the inheritance tax liability.

Trusts can be structured in various ways, each with its own tax implications.

Advantages of Trusts for Inheritance Tax Planning

Trusts are a valuable tool in inheritance tax planning and the advantages they offer are described in brief here:

Avoidance of Probate

One of the primary advantages of trusts is the avoidance of probate. Probate is the legal process of validating a will and distributing assets after someone's death. It can be a lengthy and costly process. By placing assets in a trust, they are not part of the deceased's estate and therefore do not go through probate. This means beneficiaries can access the assets more quickly.

Control Over Asset Distribution

Trusts offer a high level of control over how and when assets are distributed to beneficiaries. This is particularly useful when the beneficiaries are minors or individuals who may not be able to manage the assets responsibly.

Potential Tax Benefits

Trusts can offer significant tax benefits. For instance, assets placed in a trust are usually not subject to inheritance tax. This can result in substantial tax savings, especially for high-value estates.

Disadvantages of Trusts for Inheritance Tax Planning

Trusts for IHT also come with its own set of disadvantages :

Complexity and Cost

Setting up a trust can be complex and requires the assistance of a legal professional, which can be costly. Additionally, trusts require ongoing management and administration, which can also incur costs.

Potential for Mismanagement

If the trustee does not manage the trust assets responsibly, it could lead to losses. This risk can be mitigated by appointing a professional trustee or a trust company.

Limited Access to Assets

Once assets are placed in certain types of trusts, they cannot be easily accessed. This could be a disadvantage if the settlor needs the assets for their own use.

Trusts and Your Inheritance Tax Planning Strategy

When considering whether to include trusts in your inheritance tax planning strategy, it's essential to weigh the pros and cons. Trusts offer significant benefits, including potential tax savings and avoidance of probate. However, they also come with potential drawbacks, such as complexity, cost, and limited access to assets.

For more information on how to effectively use trusts in your inheritance tax planning strategy, consider consulting with a professional. The team at UK Property Accountants offers expert advice on inheritance tax planning and can guide you through the process.

Some Commonly Asked Questions

What are the disadvantages of a trust in estate planning?

The main disadvantages of a trust in estate planning include the complexity and cost of setting up and managing the trust, potential for mismanagement of assets by the trustee, and limited access to assets once they are placed in the trust.

What are the tax implications of a trust?

Trusts can offer significant tax benefits, including potential reductions in inheritance tax. However, the tax implications can be complex and vary depending on the type of trust and the specific circumstances of the settlor and beneficiaries.

Can a trust be changed or revoked?

Some types of trusts, known as 'revocable trusts', can be changed or revoked by the settlor during their lifetime. However, other types of trusts, known as 'irrevocable trusts', cannot be changed or revoked once they have been established.

Is a trust right for me?

Whether a trust is right for you depends on your specific circumstances and objectives. If you have a large estate, want to avoid probate, or have specific wishes about how and when your assets are distributed, a trust could be a good option. However, trusts can be complex and costly, so it's important to seek professional advice.

How can I set up a trust?

Setting up a trust typically involves drafting a trust deed with the assistance of a legal professional. The trust deed sets out the terms of the trust, including the identity of the settlor, trustee, and beneficiaries, and how the trust assets are to be managed and distributed.


Trusts can be a powerful tool in inheritance tax planning, offering potential tax savings, probate avoidance, and control over asset distribution.

However, they also come with potential disadvantages, including complexity, cost, and limited access to assets. Therefore, it's crucial to carefully consider your specific circumstances and objectives, and to seek professional advice, before deciding to set up a trust.

For more information on trusts and inheritance tax planning, visit UK Property Accountants. Their team of experts can provide tailored advice to help you navigate the complexities of inheritance tax planning and make the right decisions for your circumstances.



UK Property Accountants
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