Book Review: A Modern Approach to Wills, Administration and Estate Planning (with Precedents) (2nd edition)
Buy this book only if you intend to read it thoroughly and give it the time it deserves. If you do both, you will be amply rewarded, even without using the attached CD of precedents. You will be more up to date and you will avoid the pitfalls that litter the paths of private client lawyers.
The authors unfairly blame the increased size of this edition on elderly garrulity. Nowhere else will you find such clear, concise exposition of the main tax rules affecting estates and trusts. There is detailed examination of the most recent cases, but anything older, which you should know about anyway, is often summarised and relegated to a footnote. This is a tightly worded account of a difficult subject.
After summarising the essential law of wills, trusts and tax, the book provides notes for the will draftsman about how to use precedents, how to structure gifts to charity, and the use of the STEP Standard Provisions. There then follows the text of the precedents with appropriate footnotes. For example, the exculpation clause refers the reader back to an earlier discussion of exemption clauses and professional duties in relation to them.
Chapters are allocated to the transferable nilrate band, the use of immediate post-death interests, children, pilot trusts, the new reduced inheritance tax rate where estate is left to charity, and business and agricultural property. The last chapter includes a precedent for a nilrate-band legacy that includes business property.
The final section of the book addresses administration of the estate. Time and again examples are now surfacing where, frankly, professional people administering an estate have displayed little, if any, understanding of those wills which included a nilrate-band discretionary trust. Essentials for administering that (now outdated) structure have not been observed. Serious liabilities to inheritance tax and capital gains tax are arising that might have been avoided with proper attention to the tax issues.
No diligent reader of this book would fall into those traps. As so often, the cost of a good book is repaid in negligence avoided.
STEP member price: GBP72 (go to step.org/books and log in to obtain your discount code)
By Christopher Whitehouse and Professor Lesley King.
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