How to minimise Inheritance Tax bills as house prices surge - Palmers Solicitors

How to minimise Inheritance Tax bills as house prices surge

How to minimise Inheritance Tax bills as house prices surge

More and more people are being drawn into paying Inheritance Tax (IHT), as the price of property soars.

Here, Tim Steele, a Director with Palmers, who specialises in older client matters and putting in place plans to minimise Inheritance Tax, explains when the tax is payable and what you can do reduce your IHT burden:

What is IHT?

Inheritance Tax is a tax on the estate (the property, money and possessions) of someone who has died.

How much do I have to pay?

IHT is levied at 40 per cent on everything in an individual’s estate at their death above the Nil Rate Band of £325,000.

However, many taxpayers also benefit from the Residence Nil Rate Band, which adds an additional allowance of £175,000 for their main property if it is passed to direct descendants.

If you are married or in a civil partnership these allowances can be passed to a spouse or partner once the other person dies.

Are there any ways to save on IHT?

Here are some of the ways that you can cut your IHT bill with careful planning:

Gifting

There’s usually no IHT to pay on small gifts you make out of your normal income, such as Christmas or birthday presents, which are commonly referred to as ‘exempted gifts’.

There is also no IHT to pay on gifts between spouses or civil partners and you can transfer as you like during your lifetime, as long as they live in the UK permanently.

You can give away £3,000 worth of gifts each tax year without them being added to the value of your estate thanks to the ‘annual exemption’. If you have any unused annual exemption, you can carry it forward to the next year – but only for one year.

Each tax year, you can also give away additional gifts if they relate to special events such as weddings, birthdays or Christmas, or if they support the living costs of another person, such as an elderly relative or a child under 18.

You can also give as many gifts of up to £250 per person as you want during the tax year as long as you have not used another exemption on the same person.

However, other gifts count towards the value of your estate, and you could be charged IHT if you give away more than £325,000 in the seven years before your death.

Business Property Relief or Agricultural Property Relief

Certain assets receive relief from IHT, these include Business Property, Agricultural Property and Heritage Assets.

These reliefs can reduce or eliminate the value of an asset being included within an estate, but they often rely on certain conditions being met. However, not every interest in a business will qualify for these specialist reliefs so it is worth seeking specialist professional advice when managing your estate.

Charity

Anything left to charity in your Will won’t count towards the total taxable value of your estate. Known as a ‘charitable legacy’, this will also reduce the IHT rate on the rest of your estate from 40 per cent to 36 per cent, as long as you leave at least 10 per cent to charity.

Trusts

Trusts can play a role in reducing a family’s exposure to IHT so that more can be passed on to future generations, but they say they can also help look after family assets and provide for family members who are too young or vulnerable to deal with financial matters.

One of the main benefits of a trust is that, should you elect to act as the trustee, you would continue to maintain control over the assets gifted whilst your estate’s exposure to IHT is reduced as, after seven years, the gift is out of the Settlor’s estate completely.

Assets transferred into a trust are no longer considered as belonging to the Settlor, so they are taxed according to the rules governing the trustee.

Many people would prefer to provide for a beneficiary through a trust as opposed to passing assets to them outright. This could involve a source of income for a beneficiary for life or providing education for children but not allowing them to access funds until they are older.

If you would like more information or advice about Inheritance Tax planning, please get in touch with our expert team.