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Back to Basics – Property Protection Trust

25th September 2020Manisha Chauhan22
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Property Protection Trusts (PPTs) are by far one of the most common types of trusts included in wills.

The PPT is designed to take the deceased’s share in the home and give someone else (known as the life tenant) a life interest in the property which will give them the protection of living in the property for the remainder of their lifetime or earlier if the trust specifies i.e. remarriage. It also ensures that if the survivor requires long term care, at least half the property is preserved for the benefit of their beneficiaries who are normally the deceased’s children.

These types of trusts are normally used for married couples or civil partners to ensure the share of the home will ultimately pass to the children at the end of the trust period whilst still ensuring the interests of the surviving spouse are protected.

For example, a married couple, who have not been married before want to leave their share of their house to their only child. They currently own the house as joint tenants. Their Estate Planning Consultant would sever the tenancy on the property registering them each as 50% owners. They then have their wills written to represent that if one died, their half of the property would be held on Trust for the benefit of their child but allowing the survivor to live in their share of the property for life or a specified period of time.

 

Joint Tenants or Tenants in Common?

Considering the point above with regards to severance, when considering a PPT, it is important to be able to distinguish the difference between tenants in common (TiC) and joint tenants (JT). The reason for this is that the property must be held as tenants in common to enter the trust.

What does this mean? To simplify, both TiC and JT refer to how a property is held or owned and this ‘ownership’ is registered with the Land Registry. Traditionally, when houses were purchased, the owners would have been registered as joint tenants. This would have meant that if one tenant died, the other tenant would have inherited the property by virtue of survivorship.

Holding the property as tenants in common means that each owner holds a share of the home which can be gifted via their Will. We would always advise the title is checked as there are occasions where clients may believe the home is held as tenants in common when, upon checking to verify this, the home is in fact held as joint tenants. Obtaining a copy of the title register is a small fee of £3.

 

When is it set up?

The trust would be set up on the death of the first testator. The legal title will then be transferred into the joint names of the surviving spouse (as an example) and the trustees.

It is important to add here that a property cannot enter a life interest trust on death as until the mortgage has been settled, they are not seen to own the property. The simpler solution would be to ensure that both clients have life cover in place to cover the mortgage on first death. If on death there is still a mortgage on the property and there is nothing in place, the survivor does still have limited options:

  1. They can sell and downsize as the PPT has downsizing provisions; or
  2. A cash loan could be taken out to settle the mortgage.

 

What is the point of a PPT?

The main reason for a PPT is the protection it provides for the beneficiaries i.e. the children, to ensure they are protected and ultimately receive a share of the home.

If the share of the home is simply gifted to the partner directly, this could cause a number of issues – the main one being sideways disinheritance i.e. the surviving partner remarries and the house passes to their new spouse under the Will. A PPT will enable the partner to stay in the home and will avoid the risk of the partner potentially disinheriting the children.

Likewise, if a share of the home is gifted to the children directly while the spouse or partner has the other share, this could cause issues in that the children may want to force step mum out of the property or insist that she pays rent to remain in the property. A PPT prevents this from occurring and essentially protects both parties’ interest. It is important to add the beneficiaries will only own the share of the home when the PPT ends either due to the death of the life tenant or earlier.

 

Can the property be sold?

A PPT can include powers allowing the life tenant to downsize and use the sale proceeds to purchase a substitute property for the life tenant to live in. The additional proceeds from the sale will remain in the trust and the life tenant can be paid an income from this. This can be useful where the life tenant may not be able to look after a large home as they grow older.

 

Can the life tenant end the trust sooner?

If the life tenant (Mr) decides to revoke his life interest, he would simply inform the trustees that he wants the life interest to end and the share of the home will be distributed to the beneficiaries. However, if the life tenant also owns a share of the property, this does mean there is a risk that the children, now owning a share of the property, could attempt to force a sale of the property.

If the life tenant decides to revoke their life interest, as it will be earlier than death, the distribution to the beneficiaries will be classed as a Potentially Exempt Transfer (PET) from his estate and therefore he will need to survive the 7 year period for it to not form part of his estate for IHT purposes.

Disadvantages of a PPT

The main disadvantage of a PPT is that this inherently comes with a loss of control over the property for the survivor, since they’d be limited in how they manage the property e.g. would need the trustees agreement to sell, would be unable to take out equity release if needed.

Probate would be required and there would be fees associated with setting the trust up and transferring the property to the trust. Probate is unlikely to be avoided completely unless all the assets are held jointly.

There is also the future IHT liability that this creates since assets in the PPT would be treated as part of the life tenant’s estate for IHT purposes. If they had directly inherited the property, at least they could have had the opportunity to carry out some lifetime planning to reduce this.

 

How is a PPT taxed?

Inheritance Tax 

For inheritance tax (IHT) purposes, the life tenant of the trust is treated as inheriting the trust property on the death of the testator. If the life tenant is the deceased’s surviving spouse or civil partner the spousal exemption will apply and delay any IHT until the life tenant’s death.

When the life tenant dies, everything in the PPT will be revalued and included in their estate for IHT purposes.

Where PPT’s are used between married couples or civil partners, the RNRB will apply if the share of the home passes directly to their direct descendants i.e. children.

Where there are unmarried couples it would be easier to explain using the example below:

Fred and Elsie own a property as tenants in common. They are not married. Fred has 2 children from an earlier marriage. If Fred includes a PPT in his will giving Elsie a life interest in the property until her death and names his children as the beneficiaries at the end of the trust, the RNRB will not apply. The reason for this is because the interest is seen as passing to Elsie and would therefore need to pass to her direct descendants for the RNRB to apply. If, however, Fred and Elsie get married, the RNRB will apply as stepchildren are classed as direct descendants.

Capital Gains Tax

There is no capital gains tax (CGT) payable on the testator’s death. The trustees will acquire the testator’s share in the property at the value at the time of death. There will be no CGT payable on the life tenant’s death.

CGT would need to be considered in the event the property is sold between the testator’s death and the life tenant’s death.

If a PPT covers the main residence, this will allow the private residence relief for CGT to apply and ensure that no CGT will be payable if the property is sold, e.g. to downsize.

Income Tax

Where the property is the life tenant’s main residence, the trust will not be creating any income. However, if the property is rented, cash is released due to downsizing or if the property is not the life tenant’s main residence, the trust will produce an income which will need to be taxed.

The life tenant is entitled to all income of the trust and is generally taxed on the basis that it belongs to the life tenant. However, this will depend on whether the trustees receive the income and then pay it to the life tenant or whether the trustees mandate the income so that the life tenant receives it directly. If the trustees mandate the income, it will be the responsibility of the life tenant to declare and pay the income tax due.

 

 

 

Property protection trust

 

 

What is a Living Trust?

Everybody wants to protect their assets for the benefit of their loved ones. People are motivated to provide for their children throughout their lives and want what is best for them. Many people will draft a Will hoping to ensure that the assets that they have worked hard to acquire during their lifetime, are passed on to their children and chosen beneficiaries after their death.

However, a Will can only dispose of the assets that you own at the date of your death and if the value of these is eroded during your lifetime, there will be little if anything left for your beneficiaries to inherit.
Lifetime Living Trusts are specifically designed to protect your assets for you during your lifetime. They give you the peace of mind that your estate can be passed on securely and intact to your spouse, your children and their bloodline, or other named beneficiaries, after your death.

 

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During your lifetime

Once the Trust has been created, you can use it to ‘ring-fence’ your assets. Most people will protect their home and their savings, leaving capital in their bank or other savings accounts for ongoing living expenses. Income from savings protected within the Trust can be paid directly into your bank account to supplement income from earnings or pensions.
Just like a safety deposit box, assets can be added and removed from the Trust during your lifetime. If you have large expenses that cannot be met out of normal income, like a new car, holiday, or house repairs, the appropriate sum can be transferred to your bank account from the Trust.
You are named as the ‘Principal Beneficiary’ of the Trust and retain full control of the assets within the Trust while you are alive and have mental capacity. You are free to move home, or release equity from the Trust at any time.
As the Principal Beneficiary of the Trust, you have a guaranteed right of occupation in the property for the remainder of your life. The Trustees, usually your children, cannot evict you under any circumstances.
You can direct the Trustees to sell the property and to buy a new property of your choice. If the new property you are acquiring is more expensive, the Trustees can only be required to buy the new property if the additional capital required is paid into the Trust by you.
The Trust is equally applicable to married couples and to single people.

 

If you lose mental capacity

If you lose mental capacity, the law states that you are no longer allowed to manage your own affairs. Assets held within the Trust will then be managed by your Trustees on your behalf. Your Trustees can effectively ‘stand in your shoes’ to make decisions on your behalf but these must be for your benefit. They are able to add or remove assets or use the income from the Trust to help you and improve the quality of your life. Assets held outside the Trust will fall under the control of the courts. Creating a Lasting Power of Attorney will enable the people you choose to manage the assets that you own outside of the Trust.

 

After your death

After your death, the Trust continues to work to protect your assets for your beneficiaries. The Trust can continue to hold the assets safely within it, or pay them out to the specified beneficiaries. The Trust is extremely flexible after your death and has the potential to continue protecting your family for 125 years from the date it was created. That means that all of the benefits described in this document can not only protect you and your children but can also protect your grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

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