HMRC in the UK have just revealed record breaking inheritance tax (IHT) figures for the 2017-18 tax year. Over these 12 months £5.2bn was added to the government’s coffers as a result of death duties, an increase of £400mn on the previous year.
And that is in spite of the introduction of the new family home allowance which enables a couple to pass on £850,000 tax free. There are a couple of major factors which have contributed to this surge in the amount of IHT collected. The first is the fact that the personal allowance has remained unchanged at £325,000 since 2009. The second is that during this same period house prices and stock market prices have soared drawing more and more middle class families into the IHT net.
Perhaps you are one of those families and you risk paying a hefty bill to the Treasury when your time comes. If so, now is the time to look at your estate planning to consider the tools at your disposal to minimise the amount of your legacy that goes to the taxman and maximise that which your loved ones will receive.
IHT over the £325,000 threshold is charged at an eye watering 40% so although death and money are both difficult subjects for many of us to tackle, it is worth facing up to these taboo topics. As tax is always a complicated subject, particularly if you have a spouse of a different nationality and/or assets in different countries, this is an area where you should always take professional advice. A subjective third party is also often very useful in tackling this awkward subject in a non-biased way.
IHT can be mitigated in a number of ways including regular gifts up to an annual limit while the benefactor is still alive, using life insurance policies and establishing a trust to protect assets. A professional adviser will be able to recommend options to suit your particular situation and should review your estate planning on a regular basis, particularly after events which could have a significant income on your estate such as a windfall or a death in the familiy.
Death may seem far off to you – and let’s hope that it is – but just in case, you should take responsibility for your family’s future and security and take control of your legacy. If you’d like help with your inheritance planning please get in touch with us today.
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