Over 55s risk falling prey to inheritance ‘sibling tax trap’
This increased IHT allowance is a boost to those who’ve seen their homes rise in value and want to be able to pass on this wealth without sharp tax charges
More than 1.7million over 55s could miss out on the upcoming increased nil-rate inheritance tax band (the Family Home Allowance) because they've assigned their sibling to inherit their family home and not a direct descendant, according to the latest research from LV= Legal Services.
One in 10 over 55s have written their will to pass their family home to their siblings rather than to their children or other descendants, which would disqualify them from using the additional nil-rate allowance. Currently, if an estate of a married couple is left to a sibling then anything above the £650,000 combined threshold (£325,000 allowance per individual) will be taxed at 40%.
However, from 6 April 2017, the inheritance tax free allowance for the family home will be introduced with an initial allowance of £100,000 per person per family home, taking the total maximum individual personal allowance for IHT from the current level of £325,000 to up to £425,000, or a total of up to £850,000 for married couples.
The allowance for the family home then goes up by £25,000 per tax year, so by 6 April 2020 onwards a couple with a family home will be able to leave their children or other direct descendants a combined estate of up to £1m without any IHT to pay. However, if the same couple were to leave their family estate to a sibling, the IHT of 40% would apply on the difference between £650,000 and £1million, leaving a tax bill of up to £140,000.
The majority of people (72%) don’t know of or understand the changes, but even among those who do, half (53%) didn’t realise that the increased tax-free amount can apply to cash proceeds from the sale of the home if you downsize or have to go into care.
Additionally, many people living ‘as married’ with partners, who would want their wealth passed to each other, don’t have wills (44%) so their estate will pass to their children, who would have no obligation to provide anything to their father or mother’s partner.
Martin Milliner, Director at LV= Legal Services, said: “This increased IHT allowance is a boost to those who’ve seen their homes rise in value and want to be able to pass on this wealth without sharp tax charges, but it’s crucial that they don’t fall prey to the sibling trap. Getting the right legal advice and amending your Will could take a few hours, but with potential to save a lot of money it’s time well spent.”