Questor has to admit that it had no knowledge of this possibility but Ms Greig said that as soon as the two-year minimum holding period for Aim shares had been reached, the shares could be put in trust to cement the tax exemption. This would protect investors from any retrospective change to the rules, which she said was always a possibility.
“As soon as two years have elapsed since you bought the shares, you can put them in trust, which takes them out of your estate straight away,” she said. “You don’t have to wait until your death for the tax exemption to be set in stone.”
The trust used for this is a simple one and is not expensive to set up. When the assets are transferred to it there is no tax to pay – either IHT or any other type. The beneficiaries of the trust, who would normally be the people you had intended to leave the assets to in your will, will be able to take the assets out of the trust as and when they like, including before your death.
If you have bought a number of Aim shares at various times and some have passed the two-year holding period while others have not, you can transfer the ones that have right away and then move the others individually as they pass their exemption date. There is no need to set up a separate trust for each tranche.
The advantages of using such a trust over simply leaving the shares to your family in your will are certainty as to receipt of the tax break, the ability to query any refusal of business relief by HMRC and early access to the assets on the part of your beneficiaries.
None of this is to minimise the likely impact of any change in the rules on Aim investors. However, those who are worried might want to use the trust approach and be ready to transfer shares as they pass their two-year holding period.
As we have written several times, our portfolio will remain in being unless there is a significant change to the rules, although we do advise readers of the possibility that prices of qualifying Aim shares will come under pressure if one of the key reasons for holding them is removed or made less attractive.
Read the latest Questor column on telegraph.co.uk every Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 6am.