Twelve year legal battle ends with estate not being subjected to tax

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In Jersey, a twelve-year legal battle to fulfil the wishes of a woman who wished to leave her estate to a cause supporting homes for the elderly in St Ouen has finally ended.

Reporting the story, ITV revealed that the Supreme Court in London had ruled that Beryl Coulter’s money is not liable for inheritance tax. Mrs Coulter passed away in 2007, and had made a will where she requested her savings be spent on building homes for elderly people in the town. St Ouen is one of the twelve parishes on Jersey and the largest one by surface area.

When Mrs Coulter died, she left £4 million to the parish. Of the sum, £1.8 million was in the UK. Charity donations in the UK are exempt from inheritance tax but as part of Mrs Coulter’s donation was to the island of Jersey, which is outwith the UK, but HMRC argued the estate was liable for inheritance tax of £600,000.

Donation to charity

The executors of the will disputed the figure, arguing that the gift should not be liable because it was a donation to a charity. As a result, a twelve year legal battle took place only coming to an end this month when the Supreme Court granted Mrs Coulter’s final wish. St Ouen will receive the full £4 million she wanted to be made available for homes.

In the ITV report, one of the executors of Mrs Coulter’s will said his friend had made wise investments over the years, and that she had loved the parish of St Ouen, and wanted her money to be of benefit to the area.

In a letter to him written shortly before she died, Mrs Coulter said she wasn’t sure if she was able to offer enough money but that her donation might help “a few old folks feel happy and comfortable”.

Health bosses in St Ouen said the money came at a “vital time”, as already there was a substantial waiting list of people keen to move into the parish’s sheltered housing. Planning permission for building, however, is down to the island’s plan which is subject to consultation.

Watch Anna Geary’s full report.

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