How Did One of Britain’s Richest Men Inherit Billions and Avoid Tax?

The newly minted Duke of Westminster, Hugh Grosvenor, has reportedly inherited a staggering fortune worth GBP£8.3 billion following the death of his father, Gerald Cavendish Grosvenor. The fortune Grosvenor inherited reportedly includes 300 acres of land across West London, including in areas like Belgravia and Mayfair, home to some of the priciest real estate in the world. Hugh Grosvenor allegedly inherited this fortune without paying anything in inheritance tax, or what the British commonly refer to as “death duties.”

While Gerald Cavendish Grosvenor also had three daughters – Lady Tamara van Cutsem, who is 37, Lady Edwina Grosvenor, who is 35, and Lady Viola Grosvenor, 25 – the vast majority of his assets were distributed to Hugh Grosvenor, his sole son. His daughters are believed to have inherited around £20,000, though they will also reportedly earn an undisclosed amount of annual income from the family trusts.

So, why didn’t the new Duke of Westminster have to pay any inheritance tax? It turns out that the vast majority of his inheritance was passed down via family trusts, which still fall outside the scope of inheritance tax rules in the UK. This is because trusts are set up while a person is still alive, something many say is an appalling loophole in the British tax system.

“The big issue here is the way very, very wealthy families have for generations used trusts to pass assets on outside the sphere of inheritance tax,” he told The Times. “It is a glaring loophole,” said John Christensen of the Tax Justice Network. “It’s a political choice to have it and it means dynastic wealth is passed down the generations intact, leading to a much greater concentration of wealth.”

Today, Hugh Grosvenor is the youngest billionaire in the UK at the age of 26 and one of the nine wealthiest in all of Britain. The Sunday Times Rich List estimated his fortune to be at around £9.5 billion in total.

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