• Make sure you have an up-to-date Will. Dying without a Will can cause all sorts of problems for your surviving family as well as affecting your estate’s IHT liabilities.
  • If you own assets in excess of your available IHT exempt threshold, consider transferring assets into trusts or make lifetime gifts in order to reduce your family’s exposure to IHT. The timing of creating a trust can be critical and can have significant tax implications. So, take advice sooner rather than later.
  • Make the most of the annual gift exemptions. You can only carry forward the £3,000 unused annual allowance for one year.
  • If you make regular gifts, say a contribution to grandchildren’s school fees, in excess of the £3,000 gifts allowance, you may still avoid any IHT charge on the excess if you can demonstrate that the gifts were made out of your disposable income. i.e., you do not have to dig into your saving to make the payments. Keeping accurate records of your gifts and disposable income is a key factor in claiming this relief.
  • If you own a business, take advice on the potential IHT risks and the availability of Business Property Relief. This planning should probably be combined with consideration of the continuing ownership and control of your business after your death.
  • If possible, reduce your exposure to IHT by transferring assets out of your estate. Bear in mind that these transfers, lifetime gifts, may not fully reduce your IHT liability until the 7-year period after that gift is made has expired.
  • It may be possible to transfer the ownership of your interest in a business without losing control. You will need to take specialist advice.
  • You can reduce the rate of IHT on some assets from 40% to 36% if you leave 10% or more of your estate to charities.
  • If your estate includes significant property holdings this may mean that your executors have to sell property in order meet IHT payable. It may be prudent to leave instructions on which property(ies) to sell.
  • If your circumstances change, for example, if you divorce or re-marry, make sure you make a new Will and reconsider your IHT planning to make sure it is still relevant to your changed circumstances.

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