According to reports the late Sir Bruce Forsythe has left his entire fortune to his wife in a bid to avoid inheritance tax. Sir Bruce died in 2017 aged 89. It has emerged that the former host of Strictly Come Dancing bequeath his entire £11.7million estate to his third wife Wilnelia Merced. His six children it seems will receive nothing from his estate. By arranging his affairs in this way Sir Bruce has taken advantage of the “spouse exemption” which means that no inheritance tax is payable on the first death if one spouse leaves the whole of the estate to the other.
In her own Will Sir Bruce’s widow will be able to make gifts up to £650,000 before inheritance tax would be payable. She could also give lifetime gifts to Bruce’s children, or leave them gifts in her own Will if she chooses.
Alternatively, she could enter into a Deed of Variation to change the provisions in Sir Bruce’s Will by giving away up to £650,000.
This is an important point to bear in mind when it comes to your own tax planning. Your Will may not give rise to any tax of itself but may leave your surviving spouse with a significant inheritance tax headache.
Although he did not leave anything to his children by his Will, it is believed that Sir Bruce had put a significant sum in trust for his nine grandchildren.
In an interview some time before his death, Sir Bruce had said “I think your inheritance should go to your children more than back to the country that you have lived in”.
Anyone who shares his view should take time to review their Will and estate planning to ensure that it is up-to-date and takes into account legislative changes there might have been since their last Will was made.