with Nigel Read ●● Q. My husband recently lent our daughter and son-in-law £50,000 towards buying a property. They are planning to make monthly repayments. As we are both elderly we are concerned they may have to pay inheritance tax if anything should happen to us in the next seven years, Can we legalise this arrangement to prove it is a loan and not a gift?
A. The nil rate band – the amount an individual can pass on in their estate without any inheritance tax – is currently £325,000. For a married couple, you can now use both tax bands bringing the total to £650,000. Inheritance tax is payable at 40 per cent over and above that. Loans are repayable to the estate and therefore will be taken into account for inheritance tax purposes. If you can afford to make a gift to your daughter and son-in-law, you would have to survive seven years for the value of the gift to fall outside of your estate. Either way, you should make clear whether the £50,000 is a gift or a loan as it may cause problems for your executors when dealing with your estate. You should probably take some estate and tax planning advice.
NO FIGHT OVER FENCE
●● Q. For 20 years I have looked after the fence at the bottom of my garden, which forms the boundary with a council estate. Now the estate has been bought by a social housing company, and it says it has not bought the boundaries. It says, however, that on a one-off basis, it will replace fences that are in need of repair. How do I know who the fence belongs to?
A. If your title deeds don’t give any clue as to the ownership of the fence – sometimes they’re not very helpful in this regard – then possession is sometimes nine-tenths of the law.
If the housing company is telling you it has not bought the boundaries it seems to be suggesting that if you didn’t own the fence before then, as far as it is concerned, you do now!
If your fence is in good condition it sounds as though they will not be fighting with you to replace it.
I would continue maintaining the fence as before. ●● Q. My uncle has died suddenly, and my husband is executor of his will. Unfortunately we can’t get hold of the will because the person who has the key to his house is in hospital and we are due to go on holiday next week! Can we delegate someone else to act as executor?
A. The only reason you need to see the will urgently is in case your uncle left directions for his funeral in it. The chances are you already have the funeral arrangements in hand, so don’t panic: there is no reason why you shouldn’t take your holiday and sort out your uncle’s affairs on your return. If you need help a solicitor will be