When the term "tax planning" is banded about in the press and on social media, many people imagine complex and expensive schemes involving offshore trust in tax havens set-up by unscrupulous advisors for the benefit of foreign oligarchs and well-known celebrities.

The reality is much more straightforward and much closer to home. Making gifts of surplus cash or assets is an inexpensive, simple and legitimate means of reducing wealth and thus mitigating the overall inheritance tax burden whilst benefiting the people that you want to help the most, usually close family members such as children and grandchildren. 

As well as avoiding a future tax liability these gifts can have practical benefits such as assisting with the purchase of a first home. The result is that everyone's a winner... except the tax man.