Nuptial agreements are a crucial component of wider family wealth planning. They provide financial and jurisdictional certainty in the unfortunate event that a marriage breaks down and are particularly important for international couples with links to England. This article considers the many benefits of nuptial agreements for international families and why they are more important than ever in the context of Brexit.
The Supreme Court recently released a judgment which determined that the EU principle preventing restrictions of the free movement of capital applies to gifts of UK assets to charities in Jersey. Accordingly, persons making such gifts are entitled to inheritance tax relief in the same way as they would be if they made such a gift to a UK-based charity. For UK advisers, the case serves as a salutary reminder of the need for careful tax planning at the earliest opportunity.
The Court of Appeal recently overturned the High Court judgment in Lomax v Lomax, confirming that the courts can order early neutral evaluation even without the parties' consent. The decision – which was made in the context of a claim by a widow under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 and which was strongly resisted by her stepson – will be of particular interest to private client practitioners because of the court's endorsement of early neutral evaluation in the context of family disputes.
The Office of Tax Simplification recently published a report that made recommendations to the government to reform inheritance tax. The proposal that has received the most attention is the reduction of the period during which a lifetime gift remains subject to inheritance tax in the hands of the person making the gift (the donor) from seven to five years. A number of other changes have also been suggested – including in relation to agricultural property relief and business property relief.
Divorce can pose a significant risk to a family's or an individual's wealth. However, a nuptial agreement can reduce or mitigate such risk. A common perception of nuptial agreements is that they are designed to limit the extent of one party's financial claims. While they can be used in this way, their greater utility in this context is their ability to reduce uncertainty and therefore risk.
The Court of Appeal recently overturned a first-instance decision and confirmed that the plaintiff can make a claim out of time for reasonable provision from her husband's estate. The court disagreed with the first-instance decision that to allow this claim would amount to forced spousal heirship, as each case depends on its own facts and the specific application of the factors set out in the inheritance act.
The High Court recently ruled that parties cannot be ordered to engage in early neutral evaluation or financial dispute resolution procedures where one party objects to doing so. The case in question centred on a claim brought by a widow under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act against her late husband's estate and two lifetime trusts. The claimant sought variation of the trusts in order to meet her reasonable needs, but her stepson strongly resisted her claim.
When planning for the transfer of wealth to the next generation, families and their advisers must consider the context in which it will take place. On current trends, planning for changes of domicile and to counter both electronic security risks and bouts of mental illness are likely only to increase in future importance.
When one or both parties to a marriage have a connection with another country in addition to England and Wales, there are international considerations and implications to take into account when considering a nuptial agreement. This could be because of where they live, their domicile or nationality or where their assets are based. Among other things, couples should consider where an agreement should be drawn up and whether an English nuptial agreement will be upheld abroad.
Proprietary estoppel claims often arise in a farming and/or family context and 2018 was a bumper year for such claims. No fewer than 12 claims relying on the equitable doctrine came before the High Court over the same number of months (seven of which related to farms or farming businesses). However, this spike in cases did not translate into a high success rate, with only three claimants managing to satisfy the court in relation to the three elements required to establish an estoppel.
Shortly after rejecting a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act outside the statutory six-month time limit, the High Court of Justice allowed a claim to be brought 25 years and nine months after the deadline. As the statutory deadline had passed, the court exercised its discretion in favour of the claimant based on, among other things, the merits of her claim and the fact that refusing the application would leave her with no benefit from the estate and effectively homeless.
The practical process of entering into a nuptial agreement may not be as difficult as it first seems. This article provides a five-step guide which covers discussing the possibility of a nuptial agreement, engaging solicitors and agreeing headline terms, disclosing assets and liabilities, drafting and negotiating agreements and signing agreements and keeping them safe.
The prospect of discussing a nuptial agreement may seem daunting, but if approached in the right way it can form part of an important conversation about a couple's future together. If a couple can agree the central elements of a nuptial agreement before lawyers draw up the document, this will help to minimise potential areas of disagreement and can pave the way for a constructive negotiation. This article outlines tips for broaching the sometimes thorny subject of prenuptial agreements.
Raising the subject of a nuptial agreement can be a difficult task, but beneficial in the long run. A nuptial agreement can help to give a couple the freedom to decide their financial destiny rather than leaving that power to a judge in the family courts. It is a way for a couple to draw up their own rules rather than rely on the default of a legal system which may or may not accommodate individual circumstances. This article examines some of the many benefits of signing nuptial agreements.
Many feel apprehensive about raising the subject of nuptial agreements, partly due to the lack of impartial information and the influence of popular misheld beliefs. Despite the widespread belief that nuptial agreements are unfair, worthless and unromantic, they can be a sensible, fair and transparent way to discuss the financial aspects of a marriage and agree the outcome if ever it breaks down.
Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) recently surprised many with a statement that the government does not intend to remedy a defect in recently introduced legislation relating to the tax treatment of non-resident protected settlements. The defect means that gains realised by non-resident trustees on the disposal of offshore funds that are not registered with HMRC as having "reporting status" will be subject to income tax as they arise once the settlor is deemed domiciled in the United Kingdom.
The territorial scope of UK income tax for non-UK resident persons is generally limited to certain types of income that have a UK source. To help Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs collect the tax due on the interest received by a non-UK resident lender, the debtor is required to deduct income tax at the basic rate from the interest payments. The Court of Appeal recently confirmed that the multifactorial test is the correct approach for establishing the source of such loan interest.
The Finance (No 2) Act 2017 contains provisions requiring the disclosure of historic non-compliance to Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs by September 30 2018 (ie, the requirement to correct rule). This is part of a range of legislation targeting offshore tax evasion. Defences for failing to comply with the requirement to correct are limited and it may be insufficient to have relied on legal or tax advice. Prompt action is required to potentially avoid very significant penalties.
Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) recently issued an updated set of frequently asked questions (FAQs) regarding the new online Trust Registration Service and the information that certain trustees must maintain and report. In addition, HMRC confirmed further extensions to the deadlines for the registration of trusts with its online service. Details of the availability of the relevant online services have also been included in the FAQs.
The government recently enacted legislation which obliges trustees to collect, maintain and disclose information about trusts and related individuals. The information must be provided via Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs' (HMRC's) new online Trust Registration Service (TRS). As part of the regular new guidance on the practical operation of the TRS register, HMRC has released a set of frequently asked questions which deal with some areas of uncertainty.