Inheritance: how to pass on your wealth and property whilst minimising tax
Simple tips on estate planning and helping your loved ones, from Junior ISAs to trusts, gifts, helping with mortgages and making a future-proof will.
Why should I care about Inheritance Tax?
Inheritance Tax (IHT) isn't just a concern for the very wealthy.
The stratospheric rise in property prices means more and more families are left with an IHT bill to contend with after someone dies.
And the number of people affected is set to keep rising: the Office for Budget Responsibility predicts the number of estates paying the death tax will double over the next five years, raking in billions more pounds for the taxman.
It's worth thinking about Inheritance Tax early and in relation to any wealth you'd like to pass on.
We've put together several guides to Inheritance Tax and how it works. Start with our basic guide here, then find out how your marital and relationship status affects inheritance here.
Start planning early
Having children can put a major strain on your finances, but it's also an opportunity to think about the future.
You can start saving for your kids by setting up a Junior ISA or trust fund. Previously restricted to the rich and famous, trust funds are a surprisingly easy way to reduce Inheritance Tax.
Unfortunately, the Government-backed Child Trust Funds are no more, but it's worth checking your children don't already have one.
Drip feeding money to your kids
If your children are heading to university, there are several ways you can help them with the bills.
A trust can also help here, as you can set conditions on what gifted money is used for.
Further down the line, there are Inheritance Tax exemptions for gifts you make to your children on their wedding days. You'll need to plan ahead, however: find out more here.
Help your children buy property
Driven by sky-high property prices, the 'Bank of Mum and Dad' now lends more money than many UK high street banks.
The taxman has noticed this, so it's important not to get caught out when gifting or lending your child money.
Even if you can't afford to give your children a lump sum, you could still help them get a mortgage, often at no cost to yourself.
Another option is letting your child live at home in order to save up, but charging them some rent could still help.
Or you could downsize to free up money, although this isn't a decision to be taken lightly.
It's even possible to give your children your home and continue living in it. We've got an expert guide to this potentially tricky area.
Potentially Exempt Transfers
Don't let the dull name deceive you: a Potentially Exempt Transfer is the easiest way to not pay Inheritance Tax.
It allows you to give away money without being liable for any tax whatsoever.
There's one, slightly morbid condition: you'll need to live for another seven years, otherwise, it'll be subject to a sliding scale of Inheritance Tax.
And, as MoneyHelper points out, any income or gains someone makes from a gift could have tax implications for the beneficiary, such as Capital Gains Tax.
Writing a will
People tend to put off writing a will, but it's worth getting one done early and updating it often: our writer is on her third.
Wills can be an emotional subject, so it's important to be aware of the dangers of 'mirror wills', where your partner could potentially disinherit your loved ones.
Consider how your will could be challenged: we've got an expert guide on how to make sure it's future-proof.
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