What do private wealth lawyers do?

Private wealth lawyers advise individuals on a wide variety of personal matters providing general or specific tax advice in the context of succession and inheritance tax (“IHT”) planning. This may involve advising on lifetime gifts to individuals or trusts and considering gifts to individuals and trusts on death in wills. Mitigating tax is often a motivating factor for clients to take legal and tax advice. The tax advice we provide requires clear consideration of all the pros and cons of the options and enables clients to make informed decisions. We also draft legal documents to give effect to instructions and to ensure good practice.

Where do we meet clients?

Private wealth lawyers meet clients in the office, at their home and in care homes. We occasionally take instructions in hospital but it is preferable to take advice earlier which is likely to be more considered. It is often too late to mitigate tax just prior to a person’s death though it may be possible to reduce the value of the estate sufficiently to enable the executors to claim the residence nil rate band relief from IHT.

We also advise individuals in connection with the various forms of power of attorney. Power of attorney enables the donor to authorise their chosen attorney generally or specifically on a temporary or lasting basis to make decisions on their behalf during their lifetime.

Tax planning

Approximately half of private wealth lawyers time is spent in the context of tax planning. The remainder of my time involves advising clients in the proper administration of estates and trusts. In terms of the latter, we look to protect our clients in their fiduciary position and ensure they fulfil their duties. For example, personal representatives of an estate have a duty to preserve the value of the estate for the ultimate beneficiaries. This may involve amending buildings insurance so that it is sufficient for the full rebuild costs of the building today, selling wasting assets such as vehicles as soon as possible in the estate (without a grant) and mitigating capital gains tax in the estate where assets are to be sold for significantly more than their probate value. 

International jurisdictions 

Matters are more complicated if there is a foreign element or a claim against the estate and it may be necessary to involve lawyers in other specialist teams and jurisdictions. We have considerable experience within our Private wealth team and an excellent relationship with our specialist contentious trusts and estates team.  We also have contacts in other jurisdictions to assist with multi-jurisdictional matters.

Some members of the team spend more time advising in the context of trusts and less time drafting wills. Others may advise more elderly clients and make application for Deputyship to the Court of Protection to manage an individual’s finances or health and care.

How Moore Barlow can help

Please do not hesitate to contact the private wealth team if you have any queries.