Inheritance Tax: How do you leave a legacy which serves your family’s best interests?

Will you be one of the thousands of households in Britain that will have to pay Inheritance Tax? What’s the best way to avoid it? If you’re administering an estate because someone has died, how do you obtain probate? Is it ever possible to retrospectively minimise an estate’s tax liabilities?

Inheritance Tax receipts reached a record high of £5.2 billion in the 2017/18 tax year according to figures published by HM Revenue & Customs [1], despite the introduction of a new residence nil-rate band (RNRB).

Families are becoming increasingly complex entities, often shaped by divorces, remarriages and children from previous relationships. This can make estate and trust planning a challenge to navigate if an individual has strong feelings about those they would like to inherit their assets and those they wouldn’t.

If applicable to your situation, effective estate and trust planning could save your family a potential Inheritance Tax bill, sometimes amounting to hundreds of thousands of pounds. Inheritance Tax planning has become more important than ever following the Government’s decision to freeze the £325,000 nil rate band, with inflation potentially eroding its value every year and subjecting more families to Inheritance Tax.

Reducing the amount of money beneficiaries have to pay

Inheritance Tax is usually payable on death. When a person dies, their assets form part of their estate. Any part of an estate that is left to a spouse or registered civil partner will be exempt from Inheritance Tax on first death. The exception is if a spouse or registered civil partner is domiciled outside the UK. The maximum a person can give them before Inheritance Tax may need to be paid is £325,000. Unmarried partners, no matter how long-standing, have no automatic rights under the Inheritance Tax rules. However, there are steps people can take to reduce the amount of money their beneficiaries have to pay if Inheritance Tax affects them. Where a person’s estate is left to someone other than a spouse or registered civil partner (i.e. to a non-exempt beneficiary), Inheritance Tax will be payable on the amount that exceeds the £325,000 nil-rate band threshold. The threshold is currently frozen at £325,000 until the tax year 2020/21. Individuals can potentially also qualify for the residence nil rate band (RNRB) depending on their circumstances.

IHT is payable at 40% on the amount exceeding the thresholds

Every individual is entitled to a nil-rate band (NRB) – that is, every individual is entitled to leave an amount of their estate up to the value of the nil-rate threshold to a non-exempt beneficiary without incurring Inheritance Tax. If a widow or widower of the deceased spouse has not used their entire NRB, the NRB applicable at the time of death can be increased by the percentage of the NRB unused on the death of the deceased spouse, provided the executors make the necessary elections within two years of your death.

To calculate the total amount of Inheritance Tax payable on a person’s death, gifts made during their lifetime that are not exempt transfers must also be taken into account. Where the total amount of non-exempt gifts made within seven years of death – plus the value of the element of the estate left to non-exempt beneficiaries – exceeds the nil-rate threshold, Inheritance Tax is payable at 40% on the amount exceeding the threshold. This percentage reduces to 36% if the estate qualifies for a reduced rate as a result of charitable bequests.

Certain gifts made could qualify for taper relief

In some circumstances, Inheritance Tax can also become payable on the lifetime gifts themselves – although gifts made between three and seven years before death could qualify for taper relief, which reduces the amount of Inheritance Tax payable.

From 6 April 2017, an Inheritance Tax RNRB was introduced in addition to the standard NRB. It’s worth up to £150,000 for the 2019/20 tax year and increases to £175,000 for 2020/21. In order to qualify, you must own a property or a share in a property, which you have lived in at some stage and which you leave to your direct descendants (including children, grandchildren or stepchildren). For estates over £2 million, the RNRB is reduced at the rate of £1 for every £2 over £2 million. In addition, it only applies on death and not on gifts or any other lifetime transfers.

It might also apply if the person sold their home or downsized from 8 July 2015 onwards. If spouses or registered civil partners don’t use the RNRB on first death – even if this was before 6 April 2017 – there are transferability options on the second death.

Property, land or certain types of shares where IHT is due

Executors or legal personal representatives typically have six months from the end of the month of death to pay any Inheritance Tax due. The estate can’t pay out to the beneficiaries until this is done. The exception is any property, land or certain types of shares where the Inheritance Tax can be paid in instalments. Beneficiaries then have up to ten years to pay the tax owing, plus interest.

THE SOONER YOU START PLANNING, THE MORE YOU CAN DO.

We can work with you to ensure you make use of all the reliefs and exemptions where applicable and help you build a tailor-made succession plan based on your individual circumstances to maximise the amount that is passed to your chosen beneficiaries in the future. We can give you the peace of mind of knowing that you have laid the firmest foundations for your family’s future. Please contact us to discuss your situation.

Who are Vizion Wealth?

Our approach to financial planning is simple, our clients are our number one priority and we ensure all our advice, strategies and services are tailored to the specific individual to best meet their longer term financial goals and aspirations. We understand that everyone is unique. We understand that wealth means different things to different people and each client will require a different strategy to build wealth, use and enjoy it during their lifetimes and to protect it for family and loved ones in the future.

All of us at Vizion Wealth are committed to our client’s financial success and would like to have an opportunity to review your individual wealth goals. To find out more, get in touch with us – we very much look forward to hearing from you.

[1] https://assets.publishing.service.gov. uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/ attachment_data/file/730110/Table_12_1.pdf

DISCLAIMER:

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.

A PENSION IS A LONG-TERM INVESTMENT.

THE FUND VALUE MAY FLUCTUATE AND CAN GO DOWN, WHICH WOULD HAVE AN IMPACT ON THE LEVEL OF PENSION BENEFITS AVAILABLE.

PENSIONS ARE NOT NORMALLY ACCESSIBLE UNTIL AGE 55. YOUR PENSION INCOME COULD ALSO BE AFFECTED BY INTEREST RATES AT THE TIME YOU TAKE YOUR BENEFITS. THE TAX IMPLICATIONS OF PENSION WITHDRAWALS

WILL BE BASED ON YOUR INDIVIDUAL CIRCUMSTANCES, TAX LEGISLATION AND REGULATION, WHICH ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE IN THE FUTURE.

THE VALUE OF INVESTMENTS AND INCOME FROM THEM MAY GO DOWN. YOU MAY NOT GET BACK THE ORIGINAL AMOUNT INVESTED.

PAST PERFORMANCE IS NOT A RELIABLE INDICATOR OF FUTURE PERFORMANCE.

“The information contained in this article is intended solely for information purposes only and does not constitute advice.  While every attempt has been made to ensure that the information contained on this article has been obtained from reliable sources, Vizion Wealth is not responsible for any errors or omissions. In no event will Vizion Wealth be liable to the reader or anyone else for any decision made or action taken in reliance on the information provided in this article”.

Posted by Andrew Flowers

Andrew is the managing partner of Vizion Wealth and has been involved in the offshore and onshore financial services industry for over 18 years. Andrew was the driving force behind Vizion Wealth after years of experience in a number of advisory roles within high profile wealth management, private banking and independent financial advisory firms in the UK.

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