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Sound financial advice can help pave the way for a smooth separation

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The news this week of Bill and Melinda Gates’ divorce proceedings has naturally prompted some interest and speculation as to how their finances might be divided, given their vast wealth – according to Forbes Bill Gates is the fourth wealthiest person in the world with a fortune of around $124bn. Reports suggest that a financial settlement was already agreed by the Gates as part of a separation agreement, in advance of their public announcement. Much work will have been going on behind the scenes away from the public gaze. 

Whatever the size of your assets, it is certainly preferable to tackle the thorny issue of asset division at an early stage, not least to help alleviate some of the stress that can develop. In the UK, tax liabilities that can arise from a transfer or sale of assets may be avoided, or at least reduced, if action is taken early on in the separation to secure exemptions and reliefs. The parties’ residence and domicile positions can add complexity but may also present tax mitigation opportunities.

Depending on the assets involved, other questions may arise such as, “how much is the family trading business worth?” and “how can the pension plan be divided?” At Mercer & Hole, we can advise in these areas and support clients through the separation and divorce process, working with their matrimonial lawyers. Non-UK tax implications can be established via firms within the International Accounting Group (TIAG) and TAGLaw, which span over 90 countries worldwide. In situations where an expert witness is required, we are equipped to provide the necessary report. Our Private Client team can ensure that all tax filing obligations arising out of an asset transfer are met, and together with our financial planners help plan for the future whilst taking account of family circumstances, income requirements and the financial resolution reached.

If you have any questions or need any guidance in this area, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Alison Palmer Private Client Partner

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