Well done to Guardian readers here

The family of the Duke of Westminster deserves our sincere condolences for his untimely and sudden death (Obituary, 11 August). My parents died some years ago. They worked throughout their lives as general practitioners for the NHS. When they died they left their estate, the house they lived in, to my siblings and myself in equal shares. The house was sold at a sum slightly more than the inheritance tax threshold of the time; we paid 40% tax on the excess and divided the balance, after probate, between my brothers, sister and myself. We were content with our inheritance.

The duke’s estate has been widely reported as about £9bn: 40% of that could make a very useful contribution to the NHS, to schools, to social services. And yet, again widely reported, it is said that his heirs will inherit it all. While I have no doubt the tax arrangements are legal, they cannot be right or fair.

As long as ordinary individuals and families continue to pay their taxes, how can the rich not – and yet remain honoured by titles, befriended by royalty and applauded for their “generosity”?
Martyn Brown
Budleigh Salterton, Devon

• Simon Hattenstone wonders whether the “new meritocracy” is a sham, due to the scale of inequality in Britain today (G2, 11 August). The answer was provided on page 3 of the main paper, where you report that Hugh Grosvenor, the seventh Duke of Westminster, has just inherited £9bn at the age of 25 – taking precedence over his older sisters.
Pete Dorey
Bath, Somerset

It’s really quite amazing. They’ve managed to grasp that no inheritance tax will be paid. Excellent. So they must have seen the reason for this. That Gerald didn’t in fact own the assets, he was the beneficiary of some trusts. Hugh now becomes the major beneficiary of those same trusts. The reason there is no inheritance tax is because there is no inheritance.

16 thoughts on “Well done to Guardian readers here”

  1. What was the name of the body that used to own the Guardian, the Scott Trust wasn’t it…………good to see cognitive dissonance is alive and well in Lefty world.

  2. My parents…worked…for the NHS. When they died they left their estate, the house they lived in, to my siblings and myself in equal shares.

    40% of that could make a very useful contribution to the NHS

    So you think the arm of the state that your family did quite well out of ought to get more money? I’d rather you just came out and said it rather than dress it up in the language of altruism.

  3. Trusts pay Inheritance Tax at 6% every 10 years. The usual omission of this essential fact shows cynicism or ignorance, both equally depressing.

  4. Bloke in North Dorset

    Two GPs left a house worth just over the inheritance tax threshold. Give how well off most GPs. Come across are it shows they didn’t do very well.

    Or looked at another way, they were too stupid to recognise they had an inheritance tax liability and should do something about it. Maybe set up a trust or similar.

    The green eye monster is having a field day.

  5. BiND: they needed the house to live in but as for their progeny they probably thought “Sod the little tossers now they’re adult” and spent the rest thus avoiding double taxation and enjoying themselves.

  6. Well he’s inherited an income stream. It’s valuable enough that if I offered to take it off his hands for £325k he’d refuse my kind offer.

    I presume that the income will be taxed at 45%, and in perpetuity, so there’s that. But I guess if he inherited the assets outside of a trust there would be a slug of IHT and then 45% tax on the residual.

    TBH, I’m ok with inheritance tax and wouldn’t argue against this sort of thing getting swept up in it. If the government must be paid I’d rather it be by dead rich guys than poor living ones.

    So speaks the guy with no prospect of getting an inheritance, and no particular persons to leave one to.

  7. “My parents … worked throughout their lives as general practitioners for the NHS.”

    A case of IQ reverting towards the mean?

  8. James beat me to it. Will be interesting to see those letters in the Guardian extolling the system that allows so.much resources to be put at the disposal of the NHS so regularly – and the wealth that makes it possible!

  9. Trusts pay Inheritance Tax at 6% every 10 years. The usual omission of this essential fact shows cynicism or ignorance, both equally depressing.

    Yes, but. What is the better deal? Very approx:

    1) 1 million inherited becomes 600,000

    Or I become the sole beneficiary of a trust:

    2) I have the income only from the 1 million. the 6% every 10 years can be paid from that also.

    Assume 40% IHT and Income Tax, 5% per year income on cash inherited, or from the trust. Plus the 6% every 10 years, and assume 50 years.

    Under IHT, I get 600k, and then 30k a year.
    Over 50 years, I get 2.1 million, of which tax is 1 million.

    In a trust, i get 50k a year, out of which I pay the “trust tax”
    Over 50 years, I get 2.5 million, of which tax is 1.3 million.

    I’ve ignored inflation obviously, and there are many other factors. However, at a personal level the difference is marginal.

    The case against should be something else.

  10. Not only have we built a society were people are desperately waiting for their parents to die so they can get their grubby mits on their assets, we’ve also built a society where society is lusting after people’s deaths so the state can get its grubby mits on their assets. Why has this avaricious greed come about? Any why no realisation that lusting after your parents’ death so you can grab their assets is just training your own offspring to lust after your own death so they can get their mits on /your/ assets.

    It’s also very bad financial planning to base your finances on income arrising from people dying at some unknown unpredicatable random time. We need a new roof. It’s ok, my parents will die at some point, then we can have a new roof. We need a hospital. It’s ok, a duke will die at some point, then we can have a hospital.

  11. It’s also very bad financial planning to base your finances on income arrising from people dying at some unknown unpredicatable random time.

    That’s why socialist states like to speed the process up a bit.

  12. I wonder how many people would be mightily glad of the inheritance this “poor” person received, having no inheritance of their own. Perhaps he would think it fairer if his inheritance was divided amongst the poor.
    He clearly can’t see that the majority of the country, let alone the world, see him as rich.
    Of course if his parents were normally capable, given their income they would have amassed a much larger estate than the one described. I can only assume they ran a Rolls Royce each and consumed copious champagne.

  13. BiND,
    > “Two GPs left a house worth just over the inheritance tax threshold […] Maybe set up a trust or similar.”

    If the house is owned by a trust, isn’t it now subject to ATED? Or does that only apply to companies?

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