The 5 Best Estate Planning & Inheritance Books

Last updated: 1 January 2021. Welcome to my list of the best estate planning and inheritance tax books.

About my estate planning book selections: 

This page hosts my ranking of the 5 best estate planning books for 2020 / 2021. Unless stated otherwise, all these books are beginner friendly and don't assume much prior financial knowledge. With prices ranging from £5 - £100, stocking up on a few of the best estate planning & inheritance tax books can deliver the same value as an expensive seminar for only a fraction of the cost. They can even be read for free with Amazon's Kindle Unlimited free trial.

Click on any title below to see the latest price from Amazon, you'll be shocked at how affordable the most popular titles are. As an Amazon Associate, I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases which helps to support this site. This does not impact how I compile the list. Happy reading!

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Accessible guides to UK estate planning and inheritance tax:

UK titles on inheritance tax and estate planning aimed at beginners

The absolute essence of inheritance tax planning

Best seller

Detailed UK estate planning books for professionals:

UK inheritance tax books for wealth management & private client professionals

Private client wills trusts and estate planning

Best seller

Do it yourself: the best financial planning books for beginners

Educating yourself about the broader aspects of managing your wealth

Financial planning books for finance professionals & students

Comprehensive guides from the leading UK publisher of investing titles. 


Financial Expert tip: The hardcover versions of these financial planning books are in high demand! They can recoup up to 80% of their cover price when sold in good used condition.

Therefore if you plan to eventually sell back a title, your net cost could be as low as 20% of the cover price.

Click on the covers below to look at the used prices of these titles on Amazon to understand what cash back you could expect. 

Financial planning for your own retirement

These books focus on managing wealth to maximise income in retirement

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Here's a useful tip that will save you £100+ on inheritance tax books. Sign-up to Amazon's Kindle Unlimited free trial, which offers access to all titles for free for 30 days.

  • There's no obligation to continue with a paid subscription.
  • You don't even need a Kindle to enjoy - any device will do.

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My Top 5 Estate Planning & Inheritance Tax Books for 2021

Click covers to see latest reviews and prices



Financial Expert Rating:


Synopsis:

"The Absolute Essence of Inheritance Tax Planning’ is the antidote to ‘being stuck’ when planning for inheritance tax! The ‘Absolute Essence’ has been written to literally change your mind, your way of seeing things.

Each easy to read, concise, thought-provoking and (hopefully) entertaining chapter is written purely from the taxpayers point of view.

It is not one of those gargantuan encyclopaedic tomes destined to gather dust on your bookshelf. Indeed, you may be driven to read it several times. Inheritance tax is a widely misunderstood tax. It is, nevertheless, of increasingly serious concern to families.

This book identifies the must-know characteristics of this often opaque and complex tax and identifies some of the top tactics and smart strategies you should consider adopting. If you are interested in tax planning, ‘The Absolute Essence of Inheritance Tax’ is definitely for you."

Who this book is for:

A comprehensive guide for any beginner to estate planning, looking to inform themselves and produce a financial plan.

The Absolute Essence of Inheritance Tax Planning is the best-reviewed UK estate planning book for beginners currently listed on Amazon.

With 29 reviews, and an average rating of 4.4/5, readers have given this title their strongest endorsement against the competition. 

Author Steve Parnham is a UK-based tax advisor who has been putting these principles into action throughout his career at Steve Parnham Taxation Ltd. 

Written for both financial and non-financially minded readers, this title will guide you through the complex calculations employed by HMRC in taxing your estate, and help you to avoid that scenario if legally possible. 

 



2. Efficient Estate Planning - Matthew Smith



Financial Expert Rating:


Synopsis:

"In Efficient Estate Planning, Matthew Smith will guide you through easy strategies to reduce your inheritance tax bill immediately, thereby maximising the value and impact of your legacy and simplifying the process for your family of dealing with your estate. The book is suitable for inheritance tax beginners and experts alike.

In Efficient Estate Planning you will learn:

- How to use the secrets of the top 0.1% earners to reduce your IHT bill.

- The hidden clause in your will that could cost your family thousands in unnecessary legal fees.

- A strategy you can implement today to save over £3,000 in IHT every single year.

How to make large gifts to your family without worrying about the ‘seven-year rule’."

Who this book is for:

Efficient Estate Planning is the simple guide to inheritance tax and other estate planning matters that the UK market desperately needed when it was published in 2018. 

Being affordable, easy to navigate, and adept at explaining tricky technical areas, Matthew's book (which is available in ebook or paperback edition), is an excellent starting point for those looking for more information on estate planning. 

Matthew's impressive credentials includes a Masters (MSc) in Financial Planning and numerous Chartered designations from UK financial planning bodies. 



3. Practical Inheritance Tax Planning - Mark McLaughlin & Geoffrey Shindler OBE



Financial Expert Rating:


Synopsis:

"Ray and McLaughlin’s Practical Inheritance Tax Planning, 16th Edition is a long-established first port of call for private client advisers working with clients on inheritance tax planning engagements.

The practical commentary addresses the main planning points, potential pitfalls and possible solutions for IHT and estate planning purposes. Since the previous edition this latest title picks up on the important changes to HMRC practice, new case law and legislation, including in relation to deemed domicile and excluded property as introduced in Finance (No 2) Act 2017."

Who this book is for:

An authoritative resource for finance professionals in the private wealth management field. 

The credentials of the some of the authors of Practical Inheritance Tax Planning are worthwhile highlighting, as they paint a picture of the level of expertise which clearly went into creating such a guide:

Mark McLaughlin has written many tax publications and articles, including ‘McLaughlin’s Tax Case Review’ (www.taxinsider.co.uk) and is Co-Founder of TaxationWeb (www.taxationweb.co.uk).

Geoffrey Shindler OBE has specialised in the area of capital taxes, trusts and wills for 40 years. He is the editor of Trusts and Estates Law & Tax Journal, Trust Drafting and Precedents (Looseleaf, Bloomsbury Professional) and a member of the Editorial Board of Wills & Trusts Law Reports and The Conveyancer and Property Lawyer



4. Tolley's Estate Planning 2019 - 20 - Sharon & Simon Mckie



Financial Expert Rating:


Synopsis:

"The latest edition of this key title sees Tolley live up to its reputation as the authority on tax matters. It contains all the information required to achieve the most cost-effective, convenient and effective estate planning.

The esteemed editorial board help you formulate strategies for the provision, holding and devolution of personal and family resources.

Clear subject headings and straightforward explanations of routine and complex topics make for fast, effective research."

Who this book is for:

If you're a private wealth professional, accountant or financial adviser, you'll have seen the Tolley brand on guides on the office bookshelf. 

Tolley is the definitive imprint for detailed tax legislation guides in the UK. Each edition is purchased by many of the largest and smallest financial institutions without a second thought. 

This estate planning guide is more than just a re-gurgitation of estate planning law. Inside, you'll find practical interpretations by the experts at Tolley's, to help you craft the perfect estate planning strategies for your clients. 



Financial Expert Rating:


Synopsis:

"This informative guide provides an understanding on inheritance tax (IHT) and estate planning. Written by multi-award winning entrepreneurs and father and son team, Karl and Tristan Hartey.

Karl and Tristan have drawn together their knowledge and expertise in the complex area of IHT and estate planning to create this book, enabling you to understand this area of the financial industry.

Their entrepreneurial success is driven by their eagerness to continually develop along with the combination of using their experience and originality and independence needed to resolve problems. Karl and Tristan are both renowned members of the Strategic Coach Programme and of The Million Dollar Round Table.

 

Who this book is for:

A straight-forward and quick guide to estate planning for financial novices who don't want to spend 3 days planning their estate. 

Includes topics such as:

  • The nil-rate brand
  • Making a will
  • Using trusts to avoid inheritance tax
  • Preserving wealth

Father & son team, Karl & Tristen Hartey have presented their views on estate planning in a concise format.

This makes All You Need to Know About: Inheritance Tax a guide for those who are put off by the length of the more detailed books on the rest of this ranking. 



The Financial Expert™ Best Estate Planning Book Challenge


Best estate planning books

I challenge you to read one estate planning book per month and see if it revolutionises your investing style!


The Financial Expert™ Best Estate Planning Book Challenge is a well-loved feature of this website.

What's the idea? Well, I set a challenge to all budding estate planning readers on this page. It's up to you to accept this challenge or turn it down. 

There's no cost to accepting the challenge, but the inheritance tax consequences of turning it down might be quite financially painful!

My challenge is:

I challenge you to read one estate planning book per month for the next year.

What's the big idea? 

Well, estate planning as a subject matter has two distinct layers of knowledge:

1) The basic law: How does inheritance tax and trust law work. What tax would be due under a variety of different circumstances?

2) The basic strategies: How do wealthy individuals tend to avoid tax.

3) The best strategy for you: Which strategy is the most efficient, and practical for your circumstances. 

It isn't for a book, or any single resource (beyond an independent financial adviser) to advise you on the best solution for your circumstance. That's why a broad reading list is absolutely critical, because it's this application step which will have you wondering:

Have I chosen the best estate planning approach for me?

The more books you read, the more confident you will become in your ability to make quality financial decisions. 

Some guidance

  • I found it helpful to stock up on books for the next few months, so that when a new month rolls around, my next book was my bed-side table asking to be opened!
  • Pick a variety of styles. This will keep the challenge fresh and increase the diversity of opinion. 
  • Pick at least one book that you don't think you would enjoy, this book might be the one that surprises you the most!
  • If you're time-starved, audio books are absolutely fine!

Where to begin?

My list of the 5 best estate planning books above is as good as any place to start, as I have consciously included a mix of different writing and investing styles to ensure that it caters to a wide audience.

Good luck!



The trade-off between efficiency and effectiveness


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"This estate planning method will work 100% of the time"

A red flag

If you're searching low and high for estate planning books, you may land upon a few estate planning books which are best avoided. 

To describe estate planning as a 'long-term decision' is an understatement. Some estate plans are in place for 30 - 50 years - perhaps even longer than you've lived until this point. 

While the law in the area of estate planning moves at a much slower pace than income and capital gains tax, it's still a moving goal post. 

If an estate planning approach 'works' for 30 years, but ceases to work 5 years before your demise, then it was an ineffective plan. 

Balancing efficiency against effectiveness

Just like life insurance, estate planning gives a peace of mind and assurance that everything will be taken care of, if you were to pass away. 

It's important to place a high value against this peace of mind, because you will find that some perfectly legal estate planning techniques will trade off that assurance, with the promise of even lower taxes. 

While it may sound attractive to be able to pass on even more of your wealth to your next of kin, it's important to hold this in the context of the big IF. The big IF is the question:

Will this estate planning technique remain effective over the next few decades?

The more aggressive the estate planning strategy, the less likely it is to remain effective over the long term. 

A hot topic

Over the last ten years, tax avoidance strategies have enjoyed increase scrutiny from the public and politicians. 

The pandemic of 2020 has put pressure on governments to raise new funds through taxation. Inheritance tax, (specifically the avoidance thereof), could be the subject of changes to legislation. 

Therefore, as the ground is shifting, you may decide that it is wiser to choose a 'safer' strategy, over other legal strategies which could be labelled as aggressive or unequitable. 

Estate planning books to avoid

With this context, you should be wary of books which may promises about the effectiveness of estate planning strategies in the long run.

Considering that rules can change, no strategy can be 100% effective over such a lengthy time horizon. Any promises to the contrary are a red flag. 

 

 



Estate Planning

It's impossible to avoid the elephant in the room when planning our estate; our own mortality.

This uncomfortable truth can make estate planning a very heavy topic for some. It's naturally not a nice thing to contemplate. Because of this, many investors push it to the back of their mind and avoid the topic entirely - at their peril. 

The prevailing UK rate of inheritance tax in 2020/ 2021 is 40%.

Considering that you may have already paid up to 50% in income tax and national insurance on your income before you placed it into your savings - this means that without successful estate planning, as little as 30% of your gross salary would get passed down to your dependants. 

The UK laws on inheritance tax are complex and evolve over time

This complexity means that no wealthy individual will 'accidentally' create an efficient estate plan without spending the time to read estate planning books (or find a financial adviser) to allow them to design a tailored approach. 

The best books on avoiding inheritance tax

This page contains a few shortlists of UK inheritance tax books, alongside other popular books on financial planning that you may also find useful. 

When researching estate planning & inheritance tax, I was frustrated by the volume of books which didn't cover UK law. In a topic so tightly connected to tax rules and regulations, it's vital that you choose a book which is both tailored to your country and is up to date.

The latest significant change to inheritance tax rules was in 2009, when the nil rate band was last updated (source: HMRC), therefore titles penned since 2010 should be sufficient. However, smaller changes have occurred since which could apply to your personal circumstances. It's always worth performing further online research to check for any new developments announced in the Budget for example.