This page was last updated on 1 November 2020.
Inheritance Tax Advice
What is inheritance tax?
When you die, your estate will be valued and subject to an inheritance tax bill, if above the inheritance tax threshold. Generally, the inheritance tax payment must be complete before your loved ones are granted probate.
Topics that you will find covered on this page
You can listen to an audio recording of this page below.
What is considered part of my estate?
Your estate is all your assets: possessions, land, and capital. It includes shares in companies, cars, homes, and other property.
Things in trusts are not considered ‘your estate’. Trusts can be of benefit when it comes to reducing tax to pay. Parents find these beneficial investments for their child.
Who has to pay inheritance tax?
If a will is in place the person responsible for paying is the executor. Executors are the people responsible for affairs relating to the estate and are named in the will.
For cases without wills, the administrator of the estate is the one that deals with the debt.
How is inheritance tax paid?
The rules generally are that debts must be settled within 6 months after death. Normally payments are funded by the beneficiary or using the estate. Sometimes assets from estates will have to be sold to generate wealth.
Some assets, e.g. property, can have taxes paid in installments. This can help individuals that cannot afford the full amount upfront. Speak with an adviser to see what assets can be paid off using payment plans.
If an asset is in trust, the trustee may be responsible for paying the taxman IHT.
Here is a useful video on inheritance tax advice.
When do you have to pay inheritance tax (IHT)?
Probate might not be granted until the process of paying off the iht bill is complete. Generally, you have 6 months after death to do this.
After six months interest might be charged on the iht bill, leaving more to pay in the long run. This is why taxes on inheritance should be cleared ASAP.
Certain assets, such as property, can be paid off annually rather than with a lump sum. Exemptions like this can be solutions, helping your children afford to continue living in the family home.
What is the threshold for Inheritance Tax ?
Nothing is due on anything under £325,000. Any assets with a value below this fall in the nil rate band and are exempt from inheritance tax liability.
Anything greater is taxed by HMRC using the inheritance tax rate of 40%. If you choose to support a charity, by leaving a payout of at least 10% of your estate to them in your legacy, this will reduce iht costs down to 36%.
How can I take steps to reduce tax on inheritance?
There are a number of different actions that can help you reduce the impact iht has on future funds left to beneficiaries. However, most types of relief require guidance and early planning.
For example, making gift transfers to family and friends can lower the value of your estate and reduce the cash you owe when you die. However, the rule is that any gifts made in the seven years prior to your death do not have iht exemption, apart from those to spouses.
This is why planning decisions should be made early on in your life.
The best way to start estate planning is to discuss your wishes and finances with a solicitor. They can give tips based on your personal circumstances, helping you to leave as much as possible for your heirs. .
Are gifts subject to Inheritance Tax (IHT)?
Gifts are not subject to IHT provided they meet certain standard terms.
Firstly, gift exemption allowances only allow you to gift up to £3000 each tax year. Anything over this, unless the exchange is between partners, is subject to the same IHT conditions.
Secondly, the gift cannot have been given in the last seven years of a person’s lifetime in order to benefit from iht reliefs.
Whilst the above is a general guide, there are many types of gifts. For example, wedding gifts are considered a separate form of gift. The cost of iht in this situation depends on whether the recipient (s) are children/ step children, grandchildren, or other relatives/friends.
In the UK gifts to charities have IHT rates of 0%. This percentage does not depend on the size of the capital. A community amateur sports club is also considered a charity, in practice.
How much should I give away?
The main point is the optimal course of action varies for everyone!
It will depend on your income, mortgage situation, health, and whether you intend to leave a charity anything. There are many guides out there that can help you decide what to do with all or part of your estate.
We recommend chatting with a financial adviser. Advisers can answer any question you might have and use their personal experience to point you in the best direction.
Where can I get inheritance tax advice?
You can research online yourself, or pay for the helping hand of an expert. This is especially useful for inheritance tax planning.
What areas does inheritance tax advice cover?
Tax advice covers inheritance planning, which is useful if you have a more complex situation that might be subject to capital gains tax. An advisor can also help you figure out whether your property falls within the residence nil rate band.
In addition to planning, an expert could also help you understand documents related to IHT, claim back IHT, and how couples IHT allowance might be separated in the case of divorce or separation.
If I do not use all my tax-free allowance can I transfer it to my spouse?
Yes, you can give some or all your allocation to a spouse or civil partner.
If the whole of your estate is left to your other half in the deed of your will then no IHT will be charged. Then, the other member of the couple/partnership has an allowance of £650,000 for heritage tax purposes.
How can equity-release schemes help?
Equity- release, either lifetime mortgages or home reversion schemes, bring IHT benefit entitlements. With a policy such as a lifetime mortgage you reduce the value of your estate, but can still retain residence in your house.
This kind of expenditure is popular amongst those in retirement as it can also help supplement a pension. However, premiums can be high, so you should consider the risk carefully.
If you are interested in this service, contact your bank and/or a pensions guidance service. They can answer your credit questions and give debt advice.
How can life insurance help?
Life insurance policies can also help, though they must be written in trust. However, if your policy involves an investment then you might be subject to income tax.
If you are considering enrolment in a life insurance policy there are many things to consider, such as the duration of cover and who has control of the trust. Your eligibility likely depends on your credit score, amongst other things.
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