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Heritage land and buildings pose various legal problems. They often have high capital values, but equally often any income they produce is absorbed or exceeded by maintenance/conservation costs. In country areas these problems tend to be aggravated by current farming trends. Additionally families owning such property may be reluctant to see it sold at any price.
Some tax breaks are available, either where heritage property is managed on a commercial basis, or where the owner gives undertakings for public access and conservation. Business property relief and conditional exemption from inheritance tax on historic or scenic grounds often have a role to play. Maintenance funds can be set up for the benefit of property of appropriate quality. Charitable trusts can be set up to manage such property for public benefit: again the degree and form of public access will be key issues.
Heritage chattels can enjoy similar tax treatment in certain circumstances, though there have been major changes to the rules for conditional exemption. Particular care is needed when planning sales of chattels already conditionally exempted. Many existing exemptions are currently being renegotiated to provide greater public access. Recent terrorist attacks, and other problems in the international insurance markets, have created problems in relation to the insurance of high value items which tend by their nature to be irreplaceable.
At the same time assets of this kind need protection from family problems as well as tax ones; they are regularly held by trustees and subject to other protective arrangements such as leases. Generally, owners of heritage property have to take a much longer term view than owners of more liquid or disposable forms of wealth.
This link will take you to the text of an address on conditional exemption given by Matthew Wrigley to the 2005 AGM of the Country Land and Business Association.