Read the latest articles on Family Law from our expert Family Law solicitors here at Evolve Family Law in Manchester & Cheshire.

We put a lot of family law legal information on our website and if you have a single question about your situation, you should find an answer in this blog.

If you need a greater level of help, please contact us and one of our team will call you to make an appointment.

What is Inheritance Tax

What is Inheritance Tax

Nowadays inheritance tax is a bit of a political hot potato with some politicians calling for the ‘death tax’ to be scrapped. Many people are not sure about how inheritance tax works and if inheritance tax would affect their family. Some people stress about the tax and others take the attitude that as it is a death tax it isn’t something that is a big priority.  Our Will solicitors spend their days talking about IHT. They explain what it is, how much your estate could end up paying in tax, and the steps you can take to reduce the IHT payable by your estate. Will solicitors say it is in the best interests of your family and loved ones that you carry out some estate planning. By taking what are often simple steps you will leave more of your estate to your chosen beneficiaries rather than to the tax man. To most people that is a ‘no-brainer.’  For expert Will and estate planning advice complete our online enquiry form.   Who pays inheritance tax?   Inheritance tax (IHT) is payable on a deceased’s estate if the estate is not inheritance tax exempt. Whilst IHT is not a tax that you need to pay during your lifetime there are steps you can take to reduce the IHT liability on your estate. Will solicitors refer to this as estate planning or IHT mitigation.  If you do not engage in estate planning your estate may have to pay a tax bill of 40% of the net value of your estate after considering 2 thresholds:  The IHT threshold of £325,000  - all estates only pay IHT if the estate is valued at more than £325,000. The first £325,000 of an estate is referred to as the nil rate band or NRB  The residence nil rate band of £175,000 – your estate may qualify for an additional £175,000 in nil rate band if you own a property and you are passing it on to your child or grandchildren. If the residence NRB applies to your estate then your net estate will only pay IHT on anything over the first £500,000 ( the £325,000 is added onto the £175,000)  The rate of IHT can be reduced to 36% if you leave at least 10% of your estate to charity.  Calculating the value of your estate  Will solicitors say that you should not assume that your estate will not need to pay IHT if your estate is currently worth less than £325,000 or £500,000. That is because the value of your assets may go up at a faster rate than the government IHT thresholds or the thresholds could even be scrapped.   There can also be confusion about what assets are included in your estate to calculate your estate’s IHT liability. For example:  An insurance policy payment may fall outside your estate because of the wording of the policy  A gift given to a family member may have a percentage of its value added back into your estate if you died within 7 years of making the gift  When a probate solicitor is dealing with an estate administration, they will advise you on IHT liabilities and when any inheritance tax is payable.  Exempt estates  Some estates are exempt from paying IHT. This can be down to one of several factors:  The estate is valued at less than £325,000 (or £500,000 if the estate qualifies for the residence nil rate band of £175,000 on top of the standard IHT threshold of £325,000). The value of the estate could be less than £325,000 because the deceased made lifetime gifts to friends and family and survived for 7 years after making the gift  The estate is left to charity   The estate is left to a husband, wife, or civil partner. This is referred to as the spouse exemption. When the second spouse passes away their estate can use the first spouse’s nil rate band of £325,000 as well as their own so their estate only pays IHT on the value of the estate over £650,000 . [related_posts] Reducing your inheritance tax bill  There are several ways that you can legitimately reduce the potential inheritance tax bill that your estate may end up paying.   One of the more radical IHT suggestions is to get married if you are living with a partner in an unmarried relationship. If you leave your estate in your Will to your new husband or wife then the spouse exemption will apply so no inheritance tax is payable. For an estate worth 1 million, with a nil rate band of £325,000, that is a potential tax saving of £270,000. Before you marry you could decide to sign a prenuptial agreement to safeguard your family money in case of separation or divorce during your lifetime.    Other less radical options include leaving a percentage of your estate to charity to reduce the tax rate from 40% to 36% or using your annual allowance to make gifts to family members.  There are other ways you can reduce your inheritance tax bill. A Will solicitor can explore them with you and work out which ones are suitable for your financial and family circumstances. At the same time, they can review your existing Will to make sure it remains fit for purpose and is tax efficient. If you don’t have a Will then one can be prepared for you.   For expert Will and estate planning advice complete our online enquiry form. 
Chris Strogen
Dec 18, 2023   ·   5 minute read
Can a Separated Spouse Inherit?

Can a Separated Spouse Inherit?

Our private client and Will solicitors are asked the question ‘Can a separated spouse inherit?’ The quick answer is yes or maybe. That’s why if you are thinking about a separation or divorce you need to talk to a Will and estate planning solicitor as well as to a family lawyer.  In this article, our Will solicitors explain why you need a Will or a new Will if you are going through a family separation. Our specialist lawyers can help you with all your private client needs, including writing a Will for you or checking if your existing Will needs amending, because of your new family circumstances.  For expert Will and estate planning advice call our team or complete our online enquiry form.   Who inherits if you are separated   If you are separated from your husband, wife, or civil partner then you are still in a legal relationship with them until the relationship is dissolved by your securing a final order of divorce or the dissolution of your civil partnership.  A gift in a Will to a separated spouse or civil partner is valid despite your separation.  If you have not made a Will your separated husband, wife, or civil partner is one of your next of kin and they will be entitled to a share of your estate under the intestacy rules.  The intestacy rules set out who inherits your estate where there is no Will. The rules say:  If there are surviving children or grandchildren or great-grandchildren and the estate has a value over £322,000, the spouse or civil partner will inherit:  All the personal property and belongings of the deceased and   The first £322,000 of the estate and   Half of the remaining estate  2.If there are no surviving children, grandchildren or great-grandchildren, the spouse or civil partner will inherit:  All the personal property and belongings of the deceased and   The rest of the estate   Whether there is a Will or if the intestacy rules decide who gets an estate, some people can challenge the provisions in a Will or the intestacy rules distribution. They can do this if they do not think that the Will or the intestacy rules make reasonable financial provision for them by making a claim against the estate.  [related_posts] Joint property and separated spouses  Many married couples jointly own their family home. If a house is owned as joint tenants the surviving partner automatically inherits the deceased’s share of the house. That is the case even if the deceased was separated from their husband or wife or even if the deceased made a Will leaving their estate to their children or charity.  If you do not want your husband or wife to inherit under the joint tenancy survivorship rule then your family law solicitor can check to see if you own your family home as joint tenants. If you do own the property as joint tenants then you can sever the joint tenancy. That means the property continues to be jointly owned but you own it with your spouse as tenants in common. If you predecease your spouse your share of the property will pass under the terms of your Will. It is important to check the terms of any existing Will and to change it if necessary. That’s because most married couples have Wills that leave most of their estate to their spouse so severing the joint tenancy will only work if you also change your Will.    If you do not have a Will then intestacy rules will apply to your estate so it is important to get a Will solicitor to prepare a Will for you if you do decide to sever the joint tenancy.  One point to note is that if your separated spouse predeceases you after you sever the joint tenancy then you will not automatically inherit their share of the property under the survivorship rules. Instead, your estranged spouse’s share of the property will pass under their Will or intestacy rules.  Making a Will if you are separated  If you are separated from your husband, wife, or civil partner it is best to change your Will straight away rather than wait until after your divorce comes through. That’s the case even if your separation is amicable. For example, you may want to change your Will to leave your estate in trust for your young children. If the separation is amicable, you could appoint your estranged wife as one of the trustees of your estate. If your estate is left to your wife directly and she remarries then her second husband could inherit her estate (including the money and assets she inherited from you) and your children could lose out.  A Will solicitor can help you write a Will that reflects your new family circumstances and reduces the risk of a person making a claim against your estate. For example, they may recommend that your Will includes a discretionary trust. There are lots of options and estate planning choices that a specialist Will solicitor can talk you through.   For expert Will and estate planning advice complete our online enquiry form.      
Robin Charrot
Dec 12, 2023   ·   5 minute read