Financial advisers are one of the most popular sources of estate planning advice, coming just behind solicitors, according to Standard Life.
In its annual survey of consumer attitudes to wills and trusts, Standard Life found consumers have a relatively basic knowledge of IHT issues and believe IFAs can tap major revenue streams in the sector.
The survey found 54% of consumers would visit an IFA for advice on inheritance tax mitigation strategies, with only solicitors mentioned more frequently, identified by 77% of those surveyed.
Standard Life's head of estate planning, Julie Hutchison, says financial advisers are well placed to assist consumers with tax efficient inheritance strategies.
For example, almost two thirds of consumers are unaware of the implications from the transferable nil rate band, where a spouse can transfer their IHT exemptions to their partner.
This comes despite extensive publicity of the new laws after both the Labour and Conservative parties hit the headlines in 2007, in a battle over more relaxed IHT policies.
"One major problem with the transferable nil rate band is many consumers believe their exemption will automatically be passed to their spouse and don't understand there is a process involved to reduce their liabilities," says Hutchison.
"I think IFAs could add real value in this area by guiding their clients through the mitigation process."
Hutchison says many IFAs could access additional income streams by offering estate planning advice, particularly for clients approaching retirement.
She recommends advisers sit exams equivalent to the Chartered Insurance Institute's JO2 module, to ensure they have a robust knowledge of the issues involved.
Contact: John Bakie, Tel: 020 7484 9805, e-mail: [email protected]IFAonline
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