Whether you have earned your wealth, inherited it or made shrewd investments, you will want to ensure that as little of it as possible ends up in the hands of HM Revenue & Customs. With careful planning and professional financial advice, you can learn how to avoid inheritance tax in the UK by taking preventative action to either reduce or mitigate a person’s beneficiaries’ Inheritance Tax bill – or even mitigate inheritance tax altogether.

These are some of the main areas to consider.

1) Make a Will

A vital element of effective estate preservation is to make a Will.

Avoid Inheritance Tax - Make a will

According to a YouGov survey, almost 60% of all UK adults do not have a Will.

This is mainly due to apathy but also a result of the fact that many people feel uncomfortable talking about issues surrounding death. Making a Will ensures an individual’s assets are distributed in accordance with their wishes.

This is particularly important if the person has a spouse or registered civil partner. Even though there is no Inheritance Tax payable between both parties, there could be tax payable if one person dies intestate without a Will.

Without a Will in place, an estate falls under the laws of intestacy – and this means the estate may not be divided up in the way the deceased person wanted it to be.  Please see separate article: Intestacy Rules – Dying Without A Will

2) Make Allowable Inheritance Tax Gifts

A person can give cash or gifts worth up to £3,000 in total each tax year, and these will be exempt from Inheritance Tax when they die. They can carry forward any unused part of the £3,000 exemption to the following year, but they must use it or it will be lost.

Parents can give cash or gifts worth up to £5,000 when a child gets married, grandparents up to £2,500, and anyone else up to £1,000. Small gifts of up to £250 a year can also be made to as many people as an individual like.

Inheritance Tax - Cash Gift

Please also refer to the following related articles:
Understanding Inheritance Gifts
Tax Efficient Gifts For Christmas

3) Give Away Assets

Inheritance Tax - Assets

Parents are increasingly providing children with funds to help them buy their own home.

This can be done through a gift, and provided the parents survive for seven years after making it, the money automatically moves outside of their estate for Inheritance Tax calculations, irrespective of size.

4) How to Avoid Inheritance Tax in the UK with a Trust

Assets can be put in an appropriate trust, thereby no longer forming part of the estate. There are many types of trust available that, if appropriate, usually involve parents (settlors) investing a sum of money.

The trust has to be set up with trustees – a suggested minimum of two – whose role is to ensure that on the death of the settlers, the investment is paid out according to the settlors’ wishes. In most cases, this will be to children or grandchildren.

The most widely used trust is a discretionary trust and can be set up in a way that the settlors (parents) still have access to income or parts of the capital. It can seem daunting to put money away in a trust, but they can be unwound in the event of a family crisis and monies returned to the settlors via the beneficiaries.

Please also see:
Types of Trusts – How TO Give Away Your Wealth and Keep Some Control

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5) The Normal Expenditure Out of Income Exemption Rule

As well as putting lump sums into an appropriate trust, people can also make monthly contributions into certain savings or insurance policies and put them into an appropriate trust.

The monthly contributions are potentially subject to Inheritance Tax, but if the person can prove that these payments are not compromising their standard of living, they are exempt.

Alternatively, people can give away their surplus income and is very flexible and simple strategy, without the need for a trust, using the normal expenditure out of income exemption rule

Estate Planning - Income

6) Provide for the Tax Via Life Insurance in Trust Inheritance Tax

If a person is not in a position to take avoiding action, an alternative approach is to make provision for paying Inheritance Tax when it is due. The tax has to be paid within six months of death (interest is added after this time). Because probate must be granted before any money can be released from an estate, the executor may have to borrow money or use their own funds to pay the Inheritance Tax bill.

This is where life assurance policies written in an appropriate trust come into their own.

A life assurance policy is taken out on both a husband’s and wife’s life, with the proceeds payable only on second death. The amount of cover should be equal to the expected Inheritance Tax liability. By putting the policy in an appropriate trust, it means it does not form part of the estate. The proceeds can then be used to pay any Inheritance Tax bill straightaway without the need for the executors to borrow.

If you would to learn how to avoid inheritance tax in the UK, speak to experienced Cardiff-based Estate Planning Adviser Tony Thomas on 07585 592494 or tony@wealthmasters.co.uk

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