Often clients' estates will be subject to this tax and clients will not be aware of this. Families are caught unawares! Many houses are now worth more than the minimum level at which inheritance tax is charged. Planning now can minimise, if not remove this tax demand entirely.

This can be a complex subject and the effects of not planning can be significant for your surviving family. In addition, we can offer help to the executors of an estate with their application, policy valuation and understanding of assets, investments and life assurance policies (if applicable). Our executor services and your requirements can be considered further by telephone or email.

Wills

I am sure that your solicitor or legal adviser will have recommended that you make a Will. We would always recommend that a client has made a Will, and that they keep this up to date. This ensures that you do not die intestate, which can create significant and unnecessary problems.

Main exemptions for tax year 2018/2019

Nil rate tax band

£325,000 for a single person

£650,000 for a married couple or a civil partnership, on last death

Residence nil rate band: £125,000 per individual (conditions apply)

Annual Gift Allowance

£3,000

Small gifts per donee

£250

Gift on marriage

£5,000 to children

£2,500 Bride, Groom, Grandparents

£1,000 Others

Gifts to Charities

Exempt

Gift from surplus income

£ Dependent on circumstances


The level of the standard nil rate inheritance tax band is planned to remain fixed at £325,000 until the end of the tax year 2020/2021.

It is simple to take inexpensive steps to solve this problem or to go a long way to alleviating the inheritance tax liability. This is where bespoke planning, usually using a combination of exemptions and allowances, allows us to provide you with recommendations for you and your family to consider. We would need to take account of the gifts and allowances that you have used in the past, such as Potentially Exempt Transfers (PETs).

The new 'residence nil rate band' for inheritance tax purposes

Inheritance tax is always a topical and emotive subject and one that focuses the minds of those affected.

We have detailed above some of the allowances available to help with financial planning and the potential reduction of any tax liability due.

The change in inheritance tax calculation terms for the main residence (from 06 April 2017) has been welcomed by many as some respite against what has been described as a voluntary tax. However, it may not be as straightforward as first appears (when are tax affairs straightforward!) and it may be sensible to review your Will arrangements with a legal adviser, particularly if they are old. We would advocate a regular review of a Will document anyway to reflect clients' changing circumstances, possibly adding in Power of Attorney arrangements in a timely manner where likely to be needed.

We are not legal advisers, but do have various excellent local legal contacts for the review process, and have asked one of these for an update on this new change. They note in their factsheet text:

Married couples whose joint estates are worth from £650,000 to £2.0m should normally qualify for the full Residence Nil Rate Band. However, their Wills may need to be reviewed to ensure that, for example, any trust interests for children or grandchildren arising under their Wills satisfy the fairly complex requirements for the Residence Nil Rate Band to apply.
If the joint estate of a married couple is likely to exceed £2.0m, the Residence Nil Rate Band will normally be tapered. Such individuals might wish to seek advice on passing assets to their children during their lifetimes or on the first death so as to bring their estates below the level at which tapering applies.

(Source: Charles Russell Speechlys LLP )

We would be pleased to provide you with a copy of their three-page factsheet on request, if this is of interest, and to provide a referral if required. No individual legal or financial advice is provided in this note.

If you would like us to work with your legal adviser to control your liability then this can be easily arranged.

Combination arrangements

Inheritance tax planning can be by its nature complicated, set against the desires of the individual to have enough money for their own needs for their futures, particularly if these change and costly expenditure, such as long term care, is required. This personal need can be challenged by their love of the family (and corresponding dislike of any Chancellor of the Exchequer) to give them as much as they can when they are gone.

Invariably, we find that it is a combination of planning, of gifting, of investing, over time to help reduce any future inheritance tax liability. There are many options, from investing in AIM (Alternative Investment Market) shares/ portfolio, possibly combined in new/existing ISA arrangements, to gifting as noted above, to insuring the liability, if suitable. We can help you consider all of these options.

Many exemptions, such as the gift from surplus income are overlooked but can be used to powerful effect. Exemptions are annual and if you don't use it you lose it! Some call inheritance tax an unnecessary tax, and we would agree.

Talk to us and see what planning can be used to save your family estate.

Please note that this is for guidance only and we recommend that you seek further advice from an Independent Financial Adviser before proceeding further. The Financial Conduct Authority does not regulate taxation and trust advice.