We all want to leave something behind for our loved ones. It’s what we get up in the morning and work hard for. But a financial gift unfortunately has a tax implication to it. Research shows that only 45% of people making financial gifts are aware of Inheritance Tax.


It is always recommended to write a will, you can get a professional to do this for you for as little as £150. Make sure your money goes to who you want it to.    


We are hearing a lot of cases where there is no will. It can cause issues in a couple of situations example if your partner needs to go into a nursing home. What happens to children under the age of 18. Your wife, husband or civil partner having difficulty accessing family funds.


The treasury benefits from £5.8 billion income in inheritance tax each year. There are also 10,000 unclaimed estates where a no next of kin has been found worth more than £150,000, plus thousands more amounting to several million pounds. After 30 years that money is gone if a direct descendant cannot be found, it goes straight to the treasury and not to your family.    


Live in partners are not next of kin, even if they have been living with you for 20 years or more. Under inheritance tax law they have no rights to anything if a will has not been created.


So, what is Inheritance Tax?

Inheritance Tax is a tax on an estate of someone who’s died. An estate is the likes of property, money and possessions. There is a tax-free threshold of £325,000. You normally don’t have to pay inheritance tax if the value of your estate falls below the £325,000 threshold.


If you pass all your assets to your wife/husband, civil partner there is no inheritance tax to pay, its only when you give assets away to other people that inheritance tax is payable. Its 40% tax over and above the nil rate band.


There is an elected transfer to your spouse, civil partner or charity where both your nil rate band and your partners can be added together to make a maximum tax-free amount of £650,000. The transfer is claimed on the occasion of the 2nd partner dying. It’s not automatic there is a form to complete for this. Don’t assume its Automatic.


Your threshold can also increase if your estate is worth more than £325,000 and you give your home away to your children (this includes adopted, foster or stepchildren) or grandchildren. There is up to an extra £150,000 available to be added to your threshold. If the estate is below £325,000, you will still have to report this to HMRC. Probate forms usually must be completed within a certain timeframe of someone dying.    



Say your estate is worth £550,000, your tax-free threshold is £325,000. You will get an increase of up to £150,000 if your home is given to direct descendants. The inheritance tax charged will be 40% of £75,000.


Who pays the tax bill?

Funds from your estate are used to pay the Inheritance Tax to HMRC.  If there is a will this is done by the person dealing with the estate known as the executor. The beneficiaries are the people who inherit your estate do not normally pay the tax on the things they inherit.


7 Year Rule

There is normally no inheritance tax to pay if you gift your home and live for another 7 years, although capital gains tax might come into play.  If you die within 7 years of giving all or part of your property, your home will be treated as a gift and the 7-year rule applies. There are many tax reliefs that can be gained between the 0 years and 7-year rule. Always use an accountant if your estate has multiple sources of income. Don’t miss out on the hidden tax reliefs.



You do not have to pay any tax on gifts between spouses, you can give them as much as you like during your lifetime.   


Anyone is entitled to give gifts of up to £3,000 per annum without any inheritance tax being involved. You can carry over an unused annual exemption to the next financial year, this can only be the next financial year that immediately follows. It’s important to record this in a diary as proof to avoid it being used to reduce your nil rate band.


You can also give away the following, in each tax year:

·         Wedding gifts of up to £1,000 to any person (£2,500 to a grandchild, and £5,000 to a child)

·         Normal gifts out of your income, such as Christmas or birthday presents

·         Payments to help another person’s living cost such as an elderly relative

·         Gifts to charities and political parties

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


Inheritance tax is a complicated tax system that encounters many of the other tax systems within it, always seek professional advice if this is not a straightforward estate.

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