You may assume that inheritance tax only affects those with extremely large estates – but the likelihood of incurring tax charges on an inheritance is higher than you think.

Whatever your financial position, if you’re thinking of bequeathing an asset to a loved one upon your death, you would be wise to consider inheritance tax (IHT) – and other charges – within the planning process.

Inheritance Tax: How Much Will There Be to Pay?

IHT is a tax levied on a deceased person’s estate. The deceased’s ‘estate’ includes all money and possessions (including property). But IHT isn’t always charged; for example, if the value of a person’s estate doesn’t exceed the threshold of £325,000 (known as the ‘nil-rate band’), or they’ve left everything to a spouse/civil partner/charity (or another exempt recipient), there will be no inheritance tax to pay.

The Nil-Rate Band and Residence Nil-Rate Band

As mentioned, the current nil-rate band (which has been fixed until 2021) is £325,000. If the value of a person’s estate exceeds the nil-rate band figure, the portion of the estate above the threshold will be subject to inheritance tax (which will be charged at a rate of 40 ).

There’s another threshold to consider if the asset in question is a home, and if it has been left to children (including step, foster or adopted children) or grandchildren . If this is the case, an extra allowance is available on top of the nil-rate band. This allowance is currently fixed at £125,000 and will rise to £175,000 in the 2020/2021 tax year (and will increase in correlation with the Consumer Price Index after this point).

Note, however, that if an estate is valued at more than £2 million, the home allowance is subject to tapered withdrawal.

Inheritance Tax: Who Pays and When?

Generally, the executor of the will arranges payment of IHT, utilising funds from within the estate – or, in the event of sufficient funds not being available, using money from the sale of relevant assets. If the deceased has a life insurance policy, this may also be drawn on to cover IHT charges. In instances where a will has not been made, the administrator of the estate is responsible for organising the necessary payments.

It is generally expected that IHT be paid within the six months following an individual’s death; after this point, HMRC are able to charge interest. As such, many advise that – even if an estate is still being valued or sales of assets are still in process after the six-month period has passed – executors/administrators pay at least some of the estimated IHT during the initial period to avoid accruing interest. It is also possible for executors to pay the tax that is due in instalments (over a ten-year period), but interest will be charged on top.

In the event of an estate overpaying IHT, a refund can be sought from HMRC.

Recipients will only receive their bequests once all debts have been cleared and tax bills settled.

Other Forms of Tax

As discussed, inheritances are only doled out after debts and tax charges have all been settled – meaning that bequests may be substantially smaller than intended. The heirs to an estate may have additional tax to pay at this point, too, depending on the nature of their inheritance.

If a recipient decides to sell part of their inheritance for an increased value (i.e. for more than it was worth at the time of the original owner’s death), capital gains tax will be chargeable. Alternatively, if their inheritance incorporates a regular source of income (money from a property rental, for instance), they will have to pay income tax.

How Can I Prepare My Estate – and Reduce the Amount of Chargeable Tax?

There are various forms of succession planning that can be undertaken – from trusts to setting up a company – but the rules are complicated. As such, it is highly recommended that you seek the advice of a qualified tax consultant. A chartered tax adviser can talk you through the advantages of each approach, helping you to preserve your estate to the fullest and ensuring that your loved ones don’t lose out. Contact IBISS & Co today to learn how we can help you protect your legacy.

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