Book Review: Inheritance Tax Planning Handbook

 In Book Reviews for Private Client practitioners, Tax

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inheritance tax planning

Inheritance Tax Planning Handbook by John Bunker and Anthony Nixon published by Law Society Publishing


The authors’ stated intention was to produce a working handbook for practitioners. A book that was a valuable resource that could be dipped into for guidance on client matters. A key aim is to encourage thinking about ways to proactively offer clients opportunities to mitigate tax in the course of writing a Will or administering an estate. It is not a book of contrived schemes but of legitimate planning opportunities for IHT saving.


The book is divided into four sections:

  • Estate and Trust essentials;
  • Practical Probate and Trusts;
  • Estate planning, Wills and Variations;
  • Specialist areas.

The first two parts of the book are really ensuring the reader is familiar with the basic principles of dealing with IHT in trusts and estates.

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Part III contains 11 chapters on planning. Chapter 12 on planning with lifetime gifts; Chapter 19 on the financial planner’s perspective and Chapter 21 on Businesses and lifetime planning will be useful sections to read for practitioners hoping to help clients reduce their death estate.

Chapters 11, 13, 14, 17 and 20 discuss many aspects of Will drafting as a way of saving IHT and also planning within two years of death.

Chapter 15 explores the key points relating to both Agricultural and Business property reliefs.

Part IV looks at alternative structuring vehicles such as family investment companies; grossing upon death; business asset disposal relief; stamp duty land tax; tax planning and incapacity; domicile and deemed domicile and excluded property and double taxation.

Structure & Layout

The structure of the book into different parts is useful to help draw the reader to the key areas in which they are interested. Many practitioners will heavily thumb the third part to perhaps the exclusion of the rest.
The chapters are contributed by different people but are presented in a consistent format of starting with a list of Key Points to be covered in the chapter and then through numbered paragraphs dealing with the topics of the chapter. Each chapter has a number of practical examples to illustrate important points.


There are the usual tables of cases, legislation, statutory instruments and international law. Throughout there are relevant examples to explain the topics covered. There are no checklists or precedents – it is not that type of book. It is a book of ideas and suggestions.

Clarity & readability

The range of contributors means that the style and readability differ despite the consistency of the format. I particularly enjoyed Vicky Day’s contribution in Chapter 12 with her ‘tips’. Other chapters are not so easy to follow but nevertheless provide useful ideas.

Relevance to practitioners

Any practitioners who purport to offer estate planning advice need this book in their library. This includes solicitors, accountants, financial planners etc. It is highly relevant and helpful.

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Inheritance tax IHTDarren Leggett