06 Apr Case study – providing complete solutions to property investors
In September 2021 I was introduced to a couple wanting to put Wills in place, by a fellow member of the Society of Will Writers (who herself was referred to the clients by one of her Financial Advisor Introducers). She had quickly realised the client’s needs were well beyond her scope.
The client’s situation
After an initial telephone consultation with the clients, to discuss their situation and objectives, I emailed them my summary of their current situation, my recommendations to put in place what they needed, and the corresponding pricing to do it for them. The clients were based in the Midlands, so our ‘meetings’ were conducted via Zoom, after I had sent them a list of ‘things to consider and prepare’ for our first meeting.
The clients were married, with three adult children. They owned 50% of two very successful family businesses, with the husband’s brother and his wife owning the other 50%. None of the four owners were actively involved in running the business (having retired); it was run by one of the client’s children – who the client wished to gift some shares to ASAP, rather than waiting until death. Another of their children currently worked in the business at a junior level, and the third had no interest in it, but they wanted them to benefit from shares on each death. In addition, the four owners also shared ownership of the commercial properties the businesses were run out of, and my clients wished to transfer their share of the properties to their children ASAP.
The clients also had a property portfolio of 17 residential properties. They provided me with a spreadsheet from their conveyancing solicitor of the properties, with supposed Title numbers and ownership status – which I offered to check. Their net personal assets ran into many £millions, excluding the value of the businesses (which should pass free of IHT). They had no Wills, LPAs or Shareholder Agreements in place.
The solutions I put in place for the clients to meet their immediate objectives and ensure their estate planning provisions were fit for purpose, included:
- Referring them to both Commercial and Trust Solicitors – via an initial joint Zoom meeting – to start the process of putting Shareholder Agreements in place for the two businesses; including powers for an Attorney under an LPA to make decisions for an incapacitated shareholder, and replacing standard pre-emption rights with a ‘cross-option’ to secure the available business relief from IHT on each death. I recommended they set up a ‘Business Trust’ ASAP to protect the company’s interest, by leaving the business shares into Trust for the children who do not have managerial status in the companies. This enables them to benefit from the income, without having voting rights, or putting the companies at risk if they wanted to sell their shares or got divorced.
- Referring them to a Property Solicitor to get the ball rolling with the transfer of their shares in the commercial properties to their children.
- Drafting and registering a pair of LPAs for each of them – both ‘property and finance’ (to include both business and personal assets) and ‘health and welfare’.
- Drafting robust Wills to include Trusts for both ‘IHT reduction’ purposes (as they will never qualify for the Residence Nil Rate Band), and for ‘asset preservation’ purposes (so their assets end up with their children, not unintended third parties).
- Drafting a robust Expression of Wishes Letter to explain everything that has been done, so their Executors and Trustees know exactly what needs to be done on each death – in plain English not legal jargon!
And finally, I checked and updated their conveyancing solicitor’s spreadsheet of their 17 investment properties, having downloaded all 17 Titles from the Land Registry, to ascertain whether the properties would pass under their Wills into Trust on 1st death as they intended.
The provided spreadsheet was abysmally inaccurate; 4 properties had the wrong Title number listed, 6 were listed as ‘tenants in common’ (TiC) but were actually ‘joint tenants’ along with 5 others – so these 11 would not pass under their Wills into Trust for asset preservation purposes. 4 of the properties were held in the husband’s sole name, which he wished to be transferred into both client’s names as TiC.
After the Land Registry project was completed, I had completed 11 Title severances to ‘TiC’, along with four transfers of solely owned properties into both names as TiC, and updated their spreadsheet with all the correct information!
This was an extremely important project for clients who were in a very precarious situation if anything should have happened to either of them. Despite having used the ‘relevant professionals’ to set things up for them in the past, they had been severely let down by those professionals doing a pretty shoddy job!
Fortunately they found me – via a simple Google search!
To find out more about how I can help you, your family and friends, and add value to your client offering, please contact me via firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0845 519 7585, and I will be happy to discuss things further.