Best places to die?

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JUKES on new Sky TV drama Riviera may have surprised some viewers with his insights into the cost of dying.

The art fraud investigator, played by the excellent Phil Davis, is grilling Georgina, the glamorous blonde widow of an iffy billionaire Constantine, when he casually brings up the subject of death duties.

Constantine appears to have died in an exploding super-yacht anchored off the shores of Monaco.

"From a financial point of view, Monaco is the best place to die," he tells Georgina, adding: "Or the best place for funds to be held in probate."

She protests that she knows nothing about such matters, so Jukes goes on and explains: "Death duties in France amount to 50per cent of all inheritance. In Monaco they simply don't exist."

So anyone planning to avoid inheritance tax could arguably be best advised to relocate their assets to the principality of Monaco.

In contrast, in Britain, your estate will owe tax at 40per cent of anything above the £325,000 threshold when you die (or 36per cent if you leave at least 10per cent to a charity).

However as your assets include any property or business you own as well as cash in the bank, investments, savings, vehicles and payouts from life insurance policies millions of families are liable to be hit with a whopping bill.

Don't panic though, because there are many sensible and entirely legal ways to reduce the amount you have to pay HM Government without having to up sticks and decamp to a sun-kissed city-state on the Mediterranean.

These include financial gifts. You are permitted to give away £3,000 each year without having to pay inheritance tax on it.

However you can give your children £10,000 each in one lump sum, and as long as you do so more than seven years before you die that gift will not be subject to inheritance tax.

In other words, you either need to think well ahead or resort to monkey gland therapy...

The beneficiaries of your generosity could always take out life insurance to cover them for any potential inheritance tax bill too. Just in case the monkey glands don't work out.

Of course if you are survived by your spouse, or registered civil partner, any assets you leave them, as long as they are UK residents, are exempt from inheritance tax.

Plus your other half's inheritance tax allowance will rise by the amount of your allowance that you didn't use.

If you're living abroad, the tax situation can be very different. If you are married with no children and living in an £800K house in Spain for example, your spouse would have to cough up £63,000 after you died if you left them the house and £200,000.

This sounds a little complicated but it is really straightforward — and it really is worth getting a good estate planner on board to explain it all.

Then you can get back to thinking about other less taxing issues. Like why make Georgina wear high-heels on Riviera when she really can't walk in them, and what on earth made Phil Davis turn down the new series of Poldark for a part in a show as poorly paced as this?

Garry Bushell, June 2017.

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