Gift vs Loan
Due to the rising cost of living and interest rates on mortgages, it is not uncommon for families to advance money to their loved ones to help them on to the property ladder. Due to the natural relationship, these advances usually go undocumented. However, there are several factors that need to be taken into account before making such an advance.
If you want to assist your child with a house deposit, you need to ensure the advance is correctly recorded. Are you expecting them to pay you back? If so, is the repayment with or without interest? Or is it a “no strings attached” gift?
Money passed from parent to child is generally regarded as a gift, unless evidence proves otherwise. There is no obligation for a gift to be paid back by the recipient(s).
Care needs to be taken where you are gifting money to your child and their spouse, such as to help them into a property. Should that relationship break down, the spouse would not necessarily be required to pay back any portion of the gift, therefore walking away with half of the gifted money.
Gifting certificates are often required by a bank where a family member is advancing a portion of the purchase price. This is so the bank isn’t in competition with anyone to get their money back should the loan end up in default. There are ways to record a loan on terms that acceptable to the bank, while also protecting the advance. The document needs to be worded in such a way that doesn’t impede on the banks rights to be “first in line” if the loan defaults.
Other considerations include whether this will affect any inheritance you may plan to leave. Are you intending for your child to receive less inheritance than their siblings due to this gift? If so, your Will also needs to be updated accordingly.
Unlike a gift, a loan is repayable on terms agreed at the outset. The loan can be interest free (or very low interest) and can be repayable “upon demand” rather than a specified date or loan term. However, as noted above, when banks are involved they will usually not allow a loan with interest or a specified repayment date, as this can affect the banks priority if the loan is defaulted.
A loan provides protection in the scenario where you are advancing money to your child and their spouse. If this relationship later breaks down, you can “call up” the loan and have this paid back. You can then re-lend the money to your child once the separation is complete for another purchase, if you choose to.
Again, estate planning comes in to play. Is the loan forgiven on your death (assuming it hasn’t already been paid back)? Or is the recipient required to pay back your estate?
More considerations are needed when a Trust or other entity is involved, as well as further relationship property aspects not covered here. If you are unsure whether you should be making a gift or a loan, get in touch with us and we can assist you through the process.