Estate Planning

What exactly is inheritance tax?

Let’s dispel a myth right here and now. You don’t have to be super rich for your estate to be subject to Inheritance Tax (IHT) after you die. Currently IHT is levied on everything you leave over £325,000 (2010/2011). This includes more than just your home but also the following items which can quickly add up.

Your investments and savings

  • ·                    Your car
  • ·                    Your furniture and personal effects
  • ·                    The proceeds of your life insurance (unless it is written in trust)

The rate of IHT is 40% for everyone. The tax is paid by those that inherit – and is deducted from the estate on death – so Inheritance Tax is relevant whether you stand to gain an inheritance or you plan to leave one.

Gaining an inheritance

The average estate leaves £90,000 net of tax and the average amount received by each individual is £17,500. This suggests that, on average, people share out their bequests between five people. Some 10 per cent of beneficiaries receive £50,000 or more. A further 30 per cent receive £10,000 or more – enough to make a down-payment on a home or pay off a sizeable chunk of a mortgage.

However big or small your inheritance, there are a number of ways to put your money to good use. The ideal way is to invest at least some of it so it grows into a more substantial sum.

Source: International Longevity Centre UK

Inheritance tax planning

The best way to ensure you are minimising the amount of any possible Inheritance Tax is to see an IFA.

An IFA might, for example, advise you to make gifts now to intended beneficiaries as will be free of IHT (providing you live for 7 years or more following the gifts). There are several other tax-efficient ways of making annual gifts, both to individuals and organisations such as charities.

You could then leave a further £325,000 free of IHT to your beneficiaries in your will. Gifts between married couples and civil partners incidentally are not subject to any Inheritance Tax. You might also like to think about setting up a trust. If you put part of your estate into a trust for your grandchildren, it could be decades before your cash is again under the eye of the taxman. Trusts can be complicated and your IFA may work in conjunction with a solicitor.

Another option you might like to consider is an insurance policy to pay the tax bill after you die. We can compare all insurers to help find the right policy for you.

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