Your questions answered by an expert panel from Coopers & Lybrand

QUESTION TIME
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The Independent Online
I am making some investments through an independent financial adviser (IFA). To my disbelief, they will receive over pounds 4,000 of commission for investments of pounds 70,000. The institutions say I will not get a better deal if I invest direct. Do I have a choice?

It is true that you are unlikely to get a better deal if you invest direct - although there are an increasing number of companies who make a virtue of low cost direct dealing.

The problem with the direct services is that you do not receive advice. An alternative is to ask your adviser to compromise on the commission; you could have a proportion reinvested or rebated to you. A fee-based adviser can also offer the commission reinvestment and rebate options and you can ask him to offset part of the rebated commission against his fee.

Recently, I made a credit card booking for a weekend at a hotel. I arrived late to find my room had been let to someone else. What are my rights?

Different hotels have different procedures for reservations and late arrivals. One hotel may hold a room until the following day - making a charge to your credit card whether you arrive or not - while a second hotel of similar standard may decide to release the room after 10pm without making a charge.

The credit card booking enables the hotel to establish your ability to pay before you arrive. Although you look on this as a payment in advance, it is only charged to your card when a payment voucher is received.

Although the hotel is under no obligation to compensate you for the loss of your room they may be prepared to make a goodwill gesture.

My father was the life beneficiary of a trust and the capital has now passed to me on his death. Inheritance tax was paid on my uncle's estate before creating the trust. I now hear that I will have to pay inheritance tax on this capital sum again; is this correct?

On the death of your father (the life beneficiary), the capital value of the trust property is treated as part of his chargeable estate. The attributable inheritance tax is payable out of the trust assets and so it is you who will bear the tax by taking the reduced amount of trust capital. However, if your father died within five years of the trust's creation, the inheritance tax which is due on his death will be reduced by an appropriate percentage of the tax charged on the first transfer (dependent on the period between transfers). This is called "Quick Succession Relief."

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