Prophylactic Succession Planning: What every “Indian” Doctor needs to know

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It is a well-known fact that many of the medical profession in the UK comes from an Indian background. What is less well known is that there are some specific tax and succession planning issues to consider for this community.  Whilst the planning has to be tailored on a case by case basis there are some commonalities and significant legislation which Indian professionals may be able to take advantage of. To help Indian doctors with this enormous topic, I have highlighted below three noteworthy questions which doctors who have an Indian background (and certainly those in higher tax brackets) should consider:

  1. Are you UK or Indian domicile?  This is of special significance for Indians because the rules allow those who can show they are Indian domiciled to mitigate their inheritance tax.
  2. Do you have a structure or documents in place for succession planning? Most “Indians” like to keep the wealth within the family but many fail to put in place even basic succession planning documents. This is even more important for those Indian families who hold assets in different jurisdictions especially India and UAE where regulatory, cultural and religious factors may effect how their wealth and assets are distributed.
  3. How do you mitigate against family or business disputes? In economically distressed times wealth protection and managing disputes is as important as wealth accumulation. This protection may be achieved by a simple formal agreement or a complex trust structure backed with insurance wrappers depending on the needs of the individual, family and business.

However one answers the above questions, there are two key imperatives for medical professionals from an Indian background. Firstly is to get organised, and secondly is getting the law right.  The analogy with medicine is that prevention is better than cure and equally with succession planning the more that can be organised and opined on in advance the better the chances of getting favourable treatment. For those who hold an asset with an Indian or foreign element, the challenge is even greater but this is not unchartered territory.

One final recommendation: make sure you get the right counsel. When dealing with UK-Indian financial and investment matters there is no dearth of pitfalls and misguidance. It is often difficult to find one person who knows everything and the big firms are often too specialised and costly for ad hoc advice so look for a trusted adviser who understands your objectives, knows the general regulatory framework as well as practicalities of the jurisdictions that are relevant and above all is flexible to structure the solution to your individual needs.

Janhavi Dadarkar is the Head of Private Client Services at MLS Chase LLP. This article contains general advice only and should not be taken as a substitute for specific legal and tax advice. For more information contact janhavi.dadarkar@mlschase.com.

Notes on Author:

Janhavi set up MLS Chase’s Private Client Services Division in 2012 after a decade in the City and a 2 year stint in USA. She is corporate and media solicitor by background but having advised over a 100 companies and enterprising individuals on multi-jurisdictional matters she has developed a niche for working with UK and international families linked to India. Her ethos is to provide joined up, holistic advice with one simple aim- to help the client achieve their objective.

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