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Dirty laundry

Family feuds and estate disputes make great stories, but are headlines sullying the good name of trusts and trustees, asks Nicola Plant

14 November 2013

Trusts are back in the news and under attack, but it's not down to a tax avoidance scheme or corporate tax evasion scandal.

The Earl of Cardigan, David Brudenell-Bruce, is continuing his ?long-running battle with the trustees ?of his family estate, Savernake in Wiltshire, seeking to remove them ?and prevent the sale of the estate's ?Grade I-listed 19th-century Palladian mansion, Tottenham House.

It's easy to see why the press would take so much interest in a bleak tale about feuding families and their crumbling fortunes: the Earl is living ?off benefits in a rundown cottage on ?the estate and expecting his third ?child, according to reports.

But I worry about the effect that such isolated examples have on the public's perception of trusts and their importance for many 'ordinary' families. HMRC statistics show there are more than 179,000 private trusts submitting annual tax returns. The vast majority of these will be well-...

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