When you die, your executors or relatives need to sort out your affairs. This stressful task can be made easier if you leave a clear and up-to-date Will which has been drafted with tax in mind.
They may also need to pay Inheritance Tax (IHT) if the net value of your assets, including your home and any insurance policies that pay out to your estate on death, exceeds £325,000. The IHT rate above this threshold is 40%, or 36% if at least 10% of your net estate has been left to charity.
The IHT tax threshold is expanded by up to £150,000 if you leave the value of your home to one or more of your direct descendants. If that is your wish, your Will must be clear about who receives the value of your home. This home-related tax exemption will increase to £175,000 for deaths on and after 6 April 2020.
There are other ways to reduce the IHT payable on death, such as:
- use your annual IHT allowance of £3,000 to make gifts from your capital or savings; if you didn’t use this allowance in 2018/19 you can give away up to £6,000 in 2019/20
- make other gifts to individuals as early as possible, as they will fall out of the IHT calculation if you survive seven years after the date of the gift (but be careful not to trigger CGT charges on the gifts)
- make regular gifts out of your surplus income rather than out of accumulated income or capital – those lifetime gifts may escape IHT
- ensure that proceeds from your life assurance policies flow directly to a beneficiary – if the money lands in your estate on your death, this could trigger an IHT charge
- inform your pension fund managers of whom you wish to receive any undrawn funds by way of a wishes letter – such funds can be free of IHT if you die aged under 75