Inheritance tax isn’t always payable; it depends on the value of an estate, as well as any assets held in trust or gifts given within seven years of a person’s death. In 2013-14, the inheritance tax threshold is £325,000.
Inheritance tax is usually paid upon the death of a person, although it can be payable on gifts given throughout a lifetime. The majority of estates are worth less than the £325,000 threshold, so inheritance tax usually doesn’t need to be paid. In the event that inheritance tax is due, the rate is 40% for anything above the threshold, although this may be reduced to 36% if an estate qualifies owing to a charity donation.
Since 2007, married couples and those in civil partnerships can increase their inheritance tax threshold when their partner dies by as much as double, up to £650,000. An executor or legal professional simply needs to transfer any part of the inheritance tax threshold that hasn’t been used over to the living partner.
If the deceased partner had inherited £100,000, for example, then the transferable amount would be £225,000.
Inheritance tax is usually paid by the executors of an estate before any monies or assets are distributed; this is useful as it can avoid confusion and prevent people from potentially filling in a tax return unnecessarily.
If any monies or assets are transferred into trust, then the trustees are responsible for paying inheritance tax.
The following are examples of when inheritance tax isn’t payable:
Usually, inheritance tax must be paid within six months of the end of the month when a person died. If inheritance tax hasn’t been paid in this time, then any outstanding amount owed is subject to interest.
It is possible to pay inheritance over a period of ten years, in regular instalments, if capital is tied up in an asset such as property.