The importance of Inheritance Tax planning and Estate Planning
No two individuals are the same. The value of your estate will vary according to what you have, how much it is worth, and where it is. Estate Planning enables you to mitigate Inheritance Tax by gifting assets during your lifetime and taking advantage of available exemptions and reliefs.
Inheritance Tax is a tax on the value of your estate on death. It is charged at 0% on the first £325,000 and this is known as the Nil Rate Band. If your estate is valued above this the excess is charged to Inheritance Tax at 40%. However, assets passing between spouses on death are exempt in their entirety.
Since October 2007, the executors of a surviving spouse can apply to the Revenue to transfer the unused Nil Rate Band of the first spouse to die. So for example, if first spouse leaves everything to the survivor, and the application to the Revenue is successful, then the survivor’s estate will be entitled to double the Nil Rate Band on their death. Lifetime gifts made within 7 years of death will reduce the available Nil Rate Band so planning is essential.
If you plan sensibly you can mitigate an Inheritance Tax liability by gifting assets during your lifetime; taking advantage of available exemptions and reliefs; or simply by ensuring you spend the lot before you go! You can also use insurance policies to cover the likely liability but these are not always available and may not be sensible for you personally.
In 2017 the Government also introduced something called the Main Residence Allowance. This is a tricky piece of legislation but if you tick all the right boxes it means that an individual could also received an additional £175,000 of Inheritance Tax allowances.
Planning to mitigate tax needs careful consideration and often involves working closely with us, your accountant and your financial adviser.
If your estate is over £325,000 and you are worried about a big tax bill give us a call to have a chat about your circumstances.
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Frequently asked questions
What is Estate Planning?
To many, Wills and estate planning are one and the same. While the terms may seem interchangeable, they are actually very different processes. Both provide your relatives with instructions about how your property should be handled after your death, but estate planning goes even further to outline your wishes regarding your health, finances, and more, even while you’re living. An estate planning lawyer can help you determine what type of planning you need and can assist you with creating all of the documents necessary for a comprehensive estate plan that will easily and accurately distribute your assets, property and more after your death.
Who needs to Estate Plan?
Estate plans provide your family with a more comprehensive understanding of what you would like done in the wake of your death. This can be particularly beneficial if you have had more than one marriage, own a business, want to donate a portion of your assets to charity, or have specific requests regarding various aspects of your health and property. An estate plan can also be beneficial if you are concerned that your requests might be ignored or that your assets will not be given to the correct people. If your children are not old enough or mature enough to inherit your assets upon your passing, an estate plan can establish a trust that will give them access to those assets when they are ready.
How I ensure my & my families privacy with Estate Planning?
For some, privacy concerns may be the deciding factor in adding an estate plan to their end-of-life planning. Many of the documents used in an estate plan do not become public record after you die, unlike a will or probate court cases. By avoiding probate, you can save your family time and money while also protecting their privacy and helping ensure that no legal cases will be brought against your last will and testament.
Including a Living Will
Estate Planning documents include several that dictate your requests while you are still living. A living will explains the type of medical care you would like if you are unable to speak and provide those instructions yourself. This can include end-of-life care, the use of extraordinary measures, and more. Using a living trust can save your family money and help them make difficult decisions in a time of hardship.