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Death, taxes and a certain spy

Maybe there’s something wrong with me? Why can’t I watch a Bond movie without thinking about death and taxes?

When I go to the cinema, I tend to find that (a) I either get annoyed or distracted by details, (b) I fall asleep, (c) occasionally I actually watch a whole film and enjoy it and don’t get distracted. Usually (a) or (b) happens.

My attention first started to wander off when a certain special agent headed up the A9 to his ancestral home. It had apparently been sold to new owners, when Bond was presumed dead. That seemed rather hasty to me. My rusty recollection of the Presumption of Death procedures was that 7 years had to pass before a court could sanction this. Just a detail, of course.

But if he had actually died, had he left a Will? Who would have inherited his estate? Do the Security Services insist that their agents prepare a Will, given their high risk line of work? The RAF makes a range of information available to its members about Wills – I’m guessing they are not alone in doing that.

The problem is that dying without a Will means that you lose control of who inherits what. Bond’s position, without parents, a spouse or children, would mean that his estate could go to siblings (if he had any). And if he was an only child, then remoter relatives could be in the frame, e.g. uncles and aunts. And what with his expensive taste in watches and cars, there might be inheritance tax to pay on his death: 40% on the value above £325,000. But, I wondered, would the ‘death on active service’ exemption apply? I rather think it might. So, no IHT bill to worry about.

This IHT exemption is more often known for the way it can still apply to the estates of veterans from the Second World War, and other conflicts, but I reckon it could apply here too.

Do you have clients whose elderly parent has died, and who might have served and been injured during the Second World War, or another conflict? This exemption can be hugely valuable, and may sometimes be missed.

But back to the movie: with no surviving family in the frame, and an IHT exemption looking likely, I thought there wasn’t really any reason for Bond to have bothered with estate planning.

But for most of us, there might be someone we leave behind. And most of us prefer to have control over who gets what.

Do you have a will? There’s no time like the present to sort this out. If you’re talking the talk about goal-based planning, then walking the walk with having your own house in order makes it all the more real. Because you only live twice in the movies.

Please note that this blog is for information purposes only and Standard Life group is not in any way associated with, or supported or endorsed by Danjaq LLC, United Artists Corporation, Eon Productions, MGM/UA Home Entertainment Inc or any other official James Bond related company.

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