How the Duke of Westminster avoided billions in inheritance tax

Emma Woollacott
Late Duke of Westminster's family inheritance tax
Late Duke of Westminster's family inheritance tax

The heirs of the late Duke of Westminster will pay hardly any inheritance tax, despite the fact that he was worth a staggering £9.35 billion.

Gerald Grosvenor, who died from a heart attack aged 64 last summer, held the vast majority of his fortune in family trusts. These have now been passed on to his 26-year-old son Hugh, now the seventh Duke of Westminster, with virtually no tax paid.

See also: Huge inheritance tax sting hits bereaved families

See also: When is the best time to give your children their inheritance?

Officially, the late duke left a personal estate of only £616 million after debts and liabilities, and it's only this part of his fortune that will incur inheritance tax.

If it weren't for the trusts, the family could have been looking at a £3.4 billion bill. And to put this in context, the Treasury is expected to raise only £4.7 billion in total from death duties during this financial year.

The new duke - who is one of Prince George's godparents - is now the 68th wealthiest person in the world. His father owned 300 acres of some of London's most expensive districts, along with thousands of acres of farmland and other property worldwide.

The late duke left six-figure sums to other family members, along with £250,000 to be divided amongst his staff and £21.1 million to charities.

The news comes as social care minister Jackie Doyle-Price tells the general public that they shouldn't expect to be able to pass their home on to their children when they die.

In footage released by the Labour party, she hints that the government hasn't given up on its 'dementia tax' plan.

"The reality is that the taxpayer shouldn't necessarily be propping up people to keep their property and hand it on to their children when they're generating massive care needs," she told the Social Market Foundation fringe group.

"We've got to a stage where people feel that they are the custodian of an asset to give to their offspring... They shouldn't be seen as that."

John Christensen, director of the Tax Justice Network, tells the Daily Mail that the use of trusts to avoid inheritance tax should be investigated.

"Clearly this is not a case of someone being vulnerable and needing assets protected," he says. "It is quite simply a means of circumventing inheritance tax laws, and it is time for it to be challenged."

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