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Deciding on the right investments for the children in your life

As the festive season approaches, have you thought about gifting your children or grandchildren something different this Christmas? Giving them a good start in life by making investments into their future can make all the difference in today’s more complex world.

Many parents and grandparents want to help younger members of the family financially – whether to help fund an education, a wedding or a deposit for a first home. Christmas is a time for giving so what better gift to make to your children or grandchildren than a gift that has the potential to grow into a really useful sum of money.

There are a number of different ways to get started with investing for children that could also help you benefit from tax incentives to reduce the amount of tax paid, both now and in the future. Don’t forget that tax rules can change over time so it is important to obtain professional financial advice before making financial decisions.

Ownership of the investments
Investing some money – either as a one-off lump sum or on a regular basis – is an ideal way to give a child a head start in life. There are a number of options available when it comes to ownership of investments for a child. Children receive many of the same tax-efficient allowances as adults, so it’s a good idea to consider specialist child savings accounts.

Some people prefer to keep investments for children in their name; that way, if a future need arises in which you require access to the funds, it is still available to you as it has not yet been transferred to the child.

If you retain personal ownership of the investment, it will be your tax rates that apply as opposed to the child’s. If the investment remains in your estate upon death, more taxes could be payable, so be aware of this.

Bare trusts
You can hold investments for your child in a bare trust or designated account. Bare trusts allow you to hold an investment on behalf of a child until they are aged 18 years (in England and Wales) or 16 (in Scotland), when they’ll gain full access to the assets.

Bare trusts are popular with grandparents who would like to invest for their grandchild, because the investments and/or cash are taxed on the child who is the beneficiary. This is only the case if you are not the parent of the child. If you are and if it produces more than £100 of income it will be treated as yours for tax purposes.

Grandparents can contribute as much as they like as there is no limit to how much can be invested each year into this type of account. This can be a beneficial way of reducing a potential Inheritance Tax bill if a grandparent would like to make gifts to a child.

Discretionary trusts
A discretionary trust can be a flexible way of providing for several children, grandchildren or other family members. For example, you might set up a trust to help pay for the education of your grandchildren. The trust deed could give the trustees discretion to decide what payments to make, depending on which children go to university, what financial resources their families have and so on.

A discretionary trust can have a number of potential beneficiaries. The trustees can decide how the income of the investment is distributed. This type of trust is useful to give gifts to several people, such as grandchildren. However, it’s worth keeping in mind that the tax rules can become complex when using a discretionary trust and the investment and distribution decisions are taken by the trustees (of which you can be one).

Junior ISAs
If you want to ensure the money you give to your children remains tax-efficient, a Junior Individual Savings Account (JISA) is available for children born after 2 January 2011 or before 1 September 2002 who do not already hold a Child Trust Fund.

The proceeds are free from income tax and capital gains tax and are not subject to the parental tax rules. They have an annual savings limit of £9,000 for the current tax year which runs from 6 April to 5 April the following year.

A child can have both a Junior Stocks & Shares ISA and a Junior Cash ISA. From the age of 16, children can have control over how their JISA is managed, but cannot withdraw from it until the age of 18.

Child Junior SIPPs
It is never too early to start saving for retirement – even during childhood. While it may seem a little early to be thinking about retirement as the parent of a child, it’s worthwhile. The sooner someone starts saving, the more they will gain from the effects of compounding. There are significant benefits to setting up a pension for a child. For every £80 you put in, the Government will top it up with another £20, which is effectively free money.

A Junior Self-Invested Personal Pension Plan (SIPP) is a personal pension for a child and works just like an adult one. Parents and grandparents can save up to £2,880 into a SIPP for a child each year. What’s great about this gift is that the Government will top it up with 20% tax relief. So you can receive up to £720 extra, boosting the value of your present to £3,600. This can help a child to build a substantial pension pot if payments are made every year.

But while starting a pension for your child or grandchildren will benefit them in the long run, you need to consider that they won’t be able to access their money until they are much older.

INFORMATION IS BASED ON OUR CURRENT UNDERSTANDING OF TAXATION LEGISLATION AND REGULATIONS. ANY LEVELS AND BASES OF, AND RELIEFS FROM, TAXATION ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE.

THE VALUE OF INVESTMENTS AND INCOME FROM THEM MAY GO DOWN. YOU MAY NOT GET BACK THE ORIGINAL AMOUNT INVESTED.

PAST PERFORMANCE IS NOT A RELIABLE INDICATOR OF FUTURE PERFORMANCE.