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Can cost of drawing up a will ever be, in part, a business expense?

Client has paid to have his will drawn up. Most of his assets are his business. He is adamant that this is a business expense (for both income tax as sole trader, and VAT) - despite me saying the contrary. I can't really see my way to agreeing with him, even in part.

On the other hand .... if it was advice on the sale of his business, I suppose that would be deductible and, at a stretch, disposition on death is akin to a sale. What does the team think?


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By LyneT
17th Oct 2012 14:05

It would depend

I have never heard of sole traders having will writing as a business expense, but in theory why not.

For example if you wanted a simple will ie everything to my wife you could get something like that for about £100.

However, if he is making arrangements for the buying and selling of his business in the will, then there is a good argument for saying that the extra advice was incurred wholly and exclusively for the purpose of the business. Albeit for the future purpose. Often the most timeconsuming part of the advice relates to sucession planning. 

As I say, I have never heard of this, but cannot see why not.

It would be interesting to hear other's take on this.

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By Exector
17th Oct 2012 14:44


If at all to do with the potential sale, inheritance, transfer or continuation of the business in any form, it will be a cost on capital account and so not deductble for tax profit purposes. Equally the purposes of the owner of a business are not the purposes of the business itself!

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17th Oct 2012 15:01


Thank you for your reply regarding the non-deductibility for income tax purposes. How about for VAT purposes where the capital aspect would not be relevant?

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17th Oct 2012 16:40


Both for direct tax and VAT there is a test of purpose.

For direct tax relief is denied if the expense isn't incurred wholly and exclusively for the purpose of the business. Personally, I'm struggling to see any purpose of the business to it at all. It all seems to be for the purpose of ensuring that his assets (irrespective of what use they're put to) pass in accordance with his wishes on his death (but it only needs to be partly for that reason to fall foul of the wholly and exclusively test).

As Exector notes it's also capital, so it's disallowed under two rules.

For VAT purposes the expense would have had to have been incurred for the purpose of making taxable supplies. Again it wasn't.

Once again, I find it troubling that someone charging unsuspecting members of the public money for their services shouldn't know the answer to this. It seems you also need to grow a backbone.

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17th Oct 2012 16:56

Interesting question
I would agree that for a sole trader there is no distinction between business and personal, and shares in a company are a relatively easy disposition to include, but thinking about some of the arrangements I have seen to protect partnerships from the consequences of an untimely death I wonder there if there may be an argument

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17th Oct 2012 17:14

is correct if a little sharp in his last para

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By Exector
17th Oct 2012 17:53

business purposes
My original reply was intended to cover both the capital and wholly & exclusively disallowance issues, but perhaps too obliquely. The point I was trying to make was the trade/business itself is indifferent as to who owns or operates the business from a tax point of view and even in a sole trade situation the proprietor/owner's purposes should be distinguished from those that directly serve the purposes of the business. If a personal expense tor tax, it must equally be a personal (ie non-business)expense for VAT and there does not appear to me to be the possibility of any severable element that could be treated otherwise.

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