Request a call back

Callback Form

For more information or advice, please fill in your details below and we will contact you shortly.

Sending
×

What will your legacy look like?

Effective Inheritance Tax planning is a careful balancing act

Once a concern only for the very affluent, Inheritance Tax (IHT) is now an issue for many families, who may find themselves handing over an unprecedented portion of their estates to the taxman. This shift results from years of house price growth, inflation and stagnant tax thresholds. The Office for Budget Responsibility anticipates that IHT will bring in £7.2 billion in the fiscal year 2023/24[1].

Effective IHT planning is a careful balancing act. It’s about ensuring you can live comfortably and meet your care needs while also considering how to pass on your wealth in the most tax-efficient way. Navigating these complexities can be challenging, but it’s entirely manageable with open communication and careful planning.

Typically, IHT applies at a rate of 40% on the value of an estate above the ‘nil rate’ allowance of £325,000 (which has been frozen until April 2028). This figure escalates to £500,000 if a primary residence is bequeathed to a direct descendant. Assets passed to a spouse or registered civil partner are exempt from this tax.

Valuable reliefs and the seven-year rule

A variety of reliefs exist that enable families to protect more of their estate from IHT. The most significant of these is arguably the seven-year rule. This provision allows certain gifts to be tax-free, provided the giver survives for seven years after making the gift. However, this seemingly straightforward rule is fraught with potential pitfalls that could result in an unexpected bill from His Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC).

Estate planning is a complex endeavour. Prudent giving requires sufficient funds to support a long life and cover care costs. Here, we explore the main tax traps that could cost you thousands and provide guidance on avoiding them.

Complications of gifting property

Often, the most valuable asset in an estate is the family home. However, the rules regarding property transfers are stringent. It is a widespread misunderstanding that transferring the legal ownership of a property to children while the parents continue to reside there will sidestep IHT. Such a transfer would be considered a ‘gift with reservation’ by HMRC, as the original owner continues to benefit from the asset.

Avoiding the ‘gift with reservation’ pitfall

A parent wishing to transfer ownership but continue living in the family home would need to pay market rent to the new owner to avoid this situation. HMRC would require a signed rental agreement specifying an annual rent review and evidence of payments.

Transferring ownership of your home while you continue to reside in it carries inherent risks, as you depend on the new owners not selling the property. Placing the property into a trust can help manage this risk, though this approach has its own costs and complexities.

Bestowing gifts and understanding the tax implications

Giving gifts can be a joyous act, but it’s crucial to understand the context when it comes to IHT. If you pass away within seven years of giving a gift, IHT may be charged on the amount exceeding the £325,000 allowance. This is based on a sliding scale and if death occurs within three years, the usual 40% rate applies on amounts above this allowance.

For gifts that potentially violate the seven-year rule, if the gift exceeds the available Nil Rate Band Allowance, there would be tax on the recipient. If this isn’t addressed, the deceased’s estate typically handles the tax, which can become complicated with multiple beneficiaries.

Tax-free allowances and their exceptions

Certain allowances are exempt from the seven-year rule. You can give up to £3,000 each tax year without it being considered part of your estate later. However, this allowance hasn’t changed for over four decades, and inflation has significantly diminished its value.

The annual allowance can be divided among several people or given to one individual, and unused allowance can be carried forward by one tax year. You can also give a tax-free gift £5,000 to a child or stepchild for their wedding or registered civil partnership. For a grandchild or great-grandchild, it’s £2,500, and £1,000 for any other person.

Regular gifts from excess income

Regular gifts from your surplus income are exempt from tax, provided they don’t impact your standard of living. These gifts must come from your regular income rather than the sale proceeds of a property. They might include payments into a child’s savings account or to cover your child’s rent. HMRC closely monitors this relief, so it’s important to maintain detailed records of the amounts given.

Maximising your pension benefits

Pensions are one of the most tax-efficient benefits in life and after death. They usually don’t form part of your estate for IHT purposes, though this doesn’t apply to money already drawn from a retirement pot. However, there may be Income Tax to pay depending on when the donor dies and how the benefits are taken.

If you die after age 75, your beneficiaries will pay Income Tax on money taken out of the pension at their usual rate. Beneficiaries can potentially reduce Income Tax on inherited pensions by withdrawing money gradually, and this also depends on their overall level of income

Role of trusts in planning

Trusts are versatile tools that play a significant role in estate planning. Individuals often opt to transfer gifts through trusts, which allows them to control the timing and purpose of the money’s accessibility. This method ensures that the beneficiary can only access the funds under specific conditions, at a predetermined time, or at the trustee’s discretion.

Moreover, life insurance policies can be integrated into an appropriate trust. This strategy ensures immediate access to funds for settling an IHT bill. Establishing a trust for your life insurance policy can provide a quick solution to potential IHT duties, preventing delays in the disbursement of the estate.

Power of Attorney is an essential tool in estate planning

Having a Power of Attorney in place is another crucial element of IHT planning and may require Court of Protection approval. It allows you to appoint someone you trust to make decisions on your behalf if you cannot do so. Knowing that your wishes will be respected even if you cannot express them personally can provide peace of mind.

Deprivation of assets and avoiding potential pitfalls

The term ‘deprivation of assets’ refers to deliberately disposing of property, assets or income to avoid care fees. If a local authority believes you’ve intentionally given away assets to evade these fees, they can charge you as if those assets were still part of your estate. Unlike the seven-year rule for gifts and IHT, there’s no time limit here – a local authority can investigate the disposal of assets going back decades.

Need help with Inheritance Tax planning?

Inheritance Tax planning is complex, but with our advice, we could help you mitigate or reduce a potential tax bill with careful consideration and planning. You’ve worked hard to build up your wealth. So, it could be a good time to plan so your loved ones can get the most from the estate you intend to leave behind. For more information or guidance, please contact us.

Source data:

[1] https://obr.uk/forecasts-in-depth/tax-by-tax-spend-by-spend/inheritance-tax/

THIS ARTICLE DOES NOT CONSTITUTE TAX OR LEGAL ADVICE AND SHOULD NOT BE RELIED UPON AS SUCH. TAX TREATMENT DEPENDS ON THE INDIVIDUAL CIRCUMSTANCES OF EACH CLIENT AND MAY BE SUBJECT TO CHANGE IN THE FUTURE. FOR GUIDANCE, SEEK PROFESSIONAL ADVICE.

THE FINANCIAL CONDUCT AUTHORITY DOESN’T REGULATE TRUST PLANNING AND MOST FORMS OF INHERITANCE TAX (IHT) PLANNING. SOME IHT PLANNING SOLUTIONS PUT YOUR MONEY AT RISK, AND YOU MAY GET BACK LESS THAN YOU INVESTED. IHT THRESHOLDS DEPEND ON INDIVIDUAL CIRCUMSTANCES AND THE LAW. TAX AND IHT RULES MAY CHANGE IN THE FUTURE.

Adam Reeves

Author: Adam Reeves

DipPFS Cert CII (MP&ER)
Independent Financial Planner, Wealth Manager, Director

Last updated on

Read our reviews

Vouched For
×

Adam was quick to assess & understand my situation, and was able to discuss & communicate in a very concise and simple way the various options available to me, taking time for me to understand and clarify where necessary. My understanding & knowledge of taxation & pensions has increased significantly allowing me to feel much happier making financial decisions for the future.

Rob – West Sussex

Adam and his team undertook in-depth research into our existing QROPS schemes and clearly set out both pros and cons of transferring the funds back to the UK. Having decided to go ahead with the transfer, Adam and his team worked extremely hard to facilitate the transfer. The QROPS pension trustees were not always the most professional or responsive organisation – however we were very grateful for the perseverance and commitment that Adam showed us as clients.

Jonathan – East Sussex

Adam offered a range of financial products , the one he suggested was affordable and proved to be a good choice.  Returns on investments have exceeded my expectations, based on Adam’s advice and guidance. Profits have enabled house improvements to take place.

David - Surrey

Adam arranged an appointment very timely, he explained his role and qualifications as an IFA giving me reassurance , we went through my retirement and investment goals. Adam discussed my options explaining in great detail, I felt relaxed during our discussions allowing me to fully understand my choices. I feel very confident in the financial advice allowing me to enjoy my retirement.

I was very happy with Adam’s recommendations and explanations of financial products which would suit my retirement goals, I feel this has helped me review and reduce my financial risk as I reach retirement, leaving me feeling confident that I can enjoy my retirement plans.

Ron – West Sussex

After initial meeting Adam put together a very detailed and thorough written plan. At our second meeting he went through the whole booklet and explained everything in layman’s terms which made it a lot easier to understand.

I am very happy with everything that was suggested and put in place especially with something as big and important as pensions. Adam and his team have taken a huge weight off my shoulders and I would highly recommend their services to anyone needing help with their financial planning and pension.  Adam couldn’t have been more helpful, and even came outside his normal area to meet me on a number of occasions.

Richard - Kent

Unfortunately I had to claim on my critical illness insurance due to my wife being ill and because of the sound advice Adam gave in acquiring this insurance we ended up being financially safe through a tough time.

Steve - Kent

Adam did a review of our financial situation, confirmed that Flexible Drawdown best suited our needs as a family, and then did all the research into the best product for us. He will continue to monitor it for me. He acted extremely promptly because we had a deadline for requiring the lump sum; went out of his way arranging meetings during non-office hours, was professional yet friendly and explained a difficult subject very well.

Clare – East Sussex

Adam did a thorough review of my pension policies, clearly explained how well they had performed, how flexible they were, how the market regulation has changed, and, crucially, what the tax implications would be if I were to leave them untouched. He accurately assessed my attitude to risk and recommended an up-to-date solution that will offer me the greatest flexibility at retirement.

Greg – East Sussex
Read all our reviews here
×
Indices
Value Move   %     
FTSE 100
8,237.72-34.74 stock arrow-0.42 stock arrow
FTSE All Share
4,490.92-17.52 stock arrow-0.39 stock arrow
Currencies
Value Move   %     
Euro
1.180.00 stock arrow0.03 stock arrow
United States Dollar
1.270.00 stock arrow0.02 stock arrow

Market Data

Data is compiled by Adviser Portals Ltd every 60 minutes. Information is not realtime. Last updated: 22/06/2024 at 06:00 AM
×