Reducing your Inheritance Tax Bill: 10 ways to protect your estate for your loved ones

Even those who believe they have moderate wealth levels may still need to take action to minimise Inheritance Tax, particularly if they own property and have savings and investments.

Naturally, you’ll want to pass on as much as possible to your loved ones, rather than paying 40% to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC). Are you worried your family could be left with an Inheritance Tax bill after you’re gone?

Here are 10 tips to pay less or avoid Inheritance Tax:

  1. POTENTIALLY EXEMPT TRANSFERS

One of the better-known ways to pass on wealth free from Inheritance Tax is to gift it more than seven years before your death (a potentially exempt transfer). Of course, there is a degree of unpredictability in the outcome.

If you were to die within seven years of making the gift, Inheritance Tax may be charged, though the rate may be reduced if more than three years have passed and cumulative gifts exceed the available nil rate band.

  1. PERSONAL GIFTS

Gifts up to a certain value can be made free from Inheritance Tax, even in the last years of your life. Your allowance includes: large gifts totalling no more than £3,000; unlimited small gifts of up to £250; and wedding gifts of up to £5,000 for your children, £2,500 for your grandchildren, or £1,000 for others.

Gifts made within your regular pattern of income and normal expenditure (for example, quarterly payments towards a grandchild’s school fees from your annual income) can usually be made free from Inheritance Tax, using the out of normal expenditure exemption, although you may need to document this pattern over the long term.

  1. CHARITABLE GIFTS

Gifts to registered charities can be made entirely free from Inheritance Tax, which can help you to reduce the size of your estate to within the Inheritance Tax threshold.

Additionally, if at least 10% of your total estate is gifted to charity, it will reduce the rate of Inheritance Tax payable on your remaining estate (above the nil-rate band) from 40% to 36%.

  1. INSURANCE

It is possible to take out a whole of life insurance policy written in an appropriate trust that can provide a lump sum on your death to be used to pay the resulting Inheritance Tax bill. If this policy is within a trust, the lump sum paid out will not count towards your estate.

Insurance can also be taken out when making large financial gifts to cover the Inheritance Tax bill if you were to die within the following seven years (for example, before they are excluded from your estate). This is called a ‘Term Assurance’ or a Gift Inter Vivos  policy if the policy matches any taper relief than may be given on large gifts.

  1. PENSIONS

Typically, though with some exceptions, pensions are excluded from the calculation of your estate and can be passed on free from Inheritance Tax. It is important to name a beneficiary to whom you wish to pass on your pension benefits.

It is also possible to make payments in your lifetime into another person’s pension, which will protect this money from Inheritance Tax. For example, you can set up a Junior Pension for a grandchild under the age of 18 and pay in up to £2,880 a year (£3,600 gross). But they will not usually have access to this money until they reach age 57 +.

  1. DISCRETIONARY TRUSTS

A discretionary trust can help you to reduce your Inheritance Tax liability by holding money in the name of your beneficiaries while you retain control. You can use your nil-rate band to pay in up to £325,000, which will be excluded from your estate after seven years. Funds above the nil-rate band may attract a lifetime tax charge.

  1. LOAN TRUSTS

If you would like to protect your money in a trust but need to know you can withdraw it if you need it, it’s possible to loan money to a trust. You will always have the option to withdraw the original capital you loaned, but any growth on that capital will be protected within the trust from Inheritance Tax.

  1. DISCOUNTED GIFT TRUSTS

If you would like to earmark some wealth to be passed to a beneficiary or beneficiaries on your death, but you want any income generated to be paid to you in your lifetime, you can do this through a discounted gift trust. This will exclude the contents of the trust from your estate for Inheritance Tax purposes but still provide you with regular payments from it.

  1. BUSINESS RELIEF

Business assets can usually be passed on either in your lifetime or after your death with Inheritance Tax relief of up to 100%. A business, interest in business or shares in an unlisted company will usually qualify for 100% Business Relief after being owned for 2 years. Land, buildings and machinery related to the business will usually qualify for 50% Business Relief, as will shares controlling more than 50% of the voting rights of a listed company. Inheritance Tax Planning portfolios are available using a diversified share portfolio made up of AIM listed companies which benefit from business relief.

  1. AGRICULTURAL RELIEF

If you own agricultural property (land or pasture used to grow crops or rear animals as part of a working farm), this can usually be passed on in your lifetime or after your death free from Inheritance Tax

Time to plan your Estate?

Inheritance Tax planning can be a complicated process, especially as rules and legislation are likely to change every year. But with the right forward planning, it is possible to significantly reduce or even eliminate a potential Inheritance Tax liability. To identify the best ways to protect your assets for future generations, don’t delay. Contact us to discuss your options.

Who are Vizion Wealth?

Our approach to financial planning is simple, our clients are our number one priority and we ensure all our advice, strategies and services are tailored to the specific individual to best meet their longer term financial goals and aspirations. We understand that everyone is unique. We understand that wealth means different things to different people and each client will require a different strategy to build wealth, use and enjoy it during their lifetimes and to protect it for family and loved ones in the future.

All of us at Vizion Wealth are committed to our client’s financial success and would like to have an opportunity to review your individual wealth goals. To find out more, get in touch with us – we very much look forward to hearing from you.

The information contained in this article is intended solely for information purposes only and does not constitute advice.  While every attempt has been made to ensure that the information contained on this article has been obtained from reliable sources, Vizion Wealth is not responsible for any errors or omissions. In no event will Vizion Wealth be liable to the reader or anyone else for any decision made or action taken in reliance on the information provided in this article.

Posted by Andrew Flowers

Andrew is the managing partner of Vizion Wealth and has been involved in the offshore and onshore financial services industry for over 18 years. Andrew was the driving force behind Vizion Wealth after years of experience in a number of advisory roles within high profile wealth management, private banking and independent financial advisory firms in the UK.

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