Nobody likes to think about their death, it’s a taboo subject and the reason why so many people die without leaving a will, or efficiently planning for their finances after they’re gone.
This can lead to tax burdens on spouse and family that could be avoided if planned for correctly.
Estates that pass on to a spouse, registered civil partner or charities are exempt from Inheritance Tax (IHT), even if the value of such estates is higher than the threshold limits. Estates that pass on to anyone else, including siblings, children and grandchildren, attract IHT.
Deciding on the best way to leave your estate
If your estate is likely to suffer IHT, there are accessible solutions and strategies we can discuss with you to mitigate this tax. You may find the idea of discussing inheritance uncomfortable, but proper IHT planning could save your family hundreds of thousands of pounds. This is about deciding on the best way to leave your estate to those you love after you die, and to help ensure your loved ones are provided for.
When you die, the Government charges tax on your estate – and it could be a pretty significant amount. IHT is payable at 40% on assets within your estate that exceed the nil-rate band threshold (currently at £325,000) and is payable on assets that are passed on when you die. Nearly everyone has an estate, no matter how big or small it may be. This will include your property and business, cash and investments, cars, jewellery, art, and proceeds from life insurance policies not written in an appropriate trust.
Transfer to a surviving spouse or registered civil partner
An additional nil-rate band is available for individuals on their main residence if it is passed on to a direct descendant. Direct descendants include children (including stepchildren, adopted children or foster children) or grandchildren. This additional IHT-free residence nil-rate band is set at £175,000 in the 2020/21 tax year. As with the existing nil-rate band, any unused additional nil-rate band can be transferred to a surviving spouse or registered civil partner.
The residence nil-rate band is available on top of the existing IHT nil-rate band of £325,000, so that in 2020/21 an individual will potentially be able to leave £500,000 free of IHT. As is now the case with the standard nil-rate band, where the first of a married couple to die leaves their estate to their spouse, the residence nil-rate band can effectively be ‘passed on’ to the surviving spouse.
More tax-efficient for IHT purposes to gift money
While few of us enjoy talking about our eventual demise, not having a Will can result in assets passing to the wrong person or in a way that gives rise to a larger IHT bill. That’s why it’s equally important to keep any Will up to date. Tax rules and rates are always changing, and it is crucial to make the most of any new opportunities and to avoid any pitfalls. However, it can be more tax-efficient for IHT purposes to gift money while you are still alive.
Transformative effect on both your and your family’s life
Transferring wealth while you are alive can have a transformative effect on both your and your family’s life. Gifting money to a younger relative for instance to top up their pension and an Individual Savings Account can substantially boost their income when they eventually retire.
Each year, you can give away £3,000, and that gift will not be subject to IHT. You can also give £250 to any number of people each year. Parents can give £5,000 to each of their children as a wedding gift. Grandparents can give £2,500, and anyone else £1,000.
Further tax-free gifts
Gifts of any size to charities or political parties are also IHT-free. If a gift is regular, comes out of your income and does not affect your standard of living, any amount of money can be given away and ignored for IHT.
It is also possible to make further tax-free gifts (‘potentially exempt transfers’), but you have to survive for seven years after making the gift to get the full benefit of it being outside your estate for IHT purposes.
Taking a significant amount of wealth out of your estate
If you pass away within seven years and the gifts are valued at more than the nil-rate band, taper relief will be applied. The tax reduces on a sliding scale if the gift was made between three and seven years earlier.
Many people think that IHT only concerns the very wealthy, but property prices are such that the value of your property alone can easily exceed the tax threshold. Don’t forget, IHT can take a significant amount of wealth out of your estate, making a big difference to the amount your heirs receive when you are gone.
INFORMATION IS BASED ON OUR CURRENT UNDERSTANDING OF TAXATION LEGISLATION AND REGULATIONS.
ANY LEVELS AND BASES OF, AND RELIEFS FROM, TAXATION ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE.
THE RULES AROUND INHERITANCE TAX ARE COMPLICATED, SO YOU SHOULD ALWAYS OBTAIN PROFESSIONAL ADVICE.
THE VALUE OF INVESTMENTS AND THE INCOME THEY PRODUCE CAN FALL AS WELL AS RISE. YOU MAY GET BACK LESS THAN YOU INVESTED.