A recent report by Equiniti Benefactor, the estate administration arm of Equiniti, has found that the average amount of cash left in an estate at death is £69,000. The value of pots of cash are eroded by inflation over time, particularly when interest rates are low as at present. Early estate planning can help to reduce high cash balances either by gifting or by appropriate investment strategies

Gifts can reduce the value of estates for inheritance tax purposes but the gifter needs to be aware that they must survive for seven years for the gift to be effective for tax planning purposes. For this reason estate planning realistically needs to be approached in one's 50's or 60's, often as part of a pre-retirement planning process; unfortunately many people leave it until they are much older or prompted by their children resulting in little scope to maximize available exemptions and reliefs.

In addition a loss of capacity in later life can make it very difficult for an attorney or Deputy to undertake any significant planning to the restrictions on their ability to make gifts or certain types of investment. 

Finally it is important to remember that finding may be required for later life care costs and so sufficient funds must be retained in order to maintain quality of life.

The moral of the story is it's never to early to make plans.