Inheritance Tax Payment

Inheritance Tax Payment
Inheritance Tax Payment
Full Overview Of Inheritance Tax Payment

Inheritance Tax (IHT) is a crucial consideration for individuals planning their estates and for beneficiaries who will receive assets.

At DLS Solicitors, we understand the complexities of IHT and the importance of effective planning to minimise tax liabilities. Our guide provides a detailed overview of IHT, including its key components, the payment process, mitigation strategies, and common challenges.

Understanding Inheritance Tax

Inheritance Tax is levied on the estate of a deceased person before their assets are distributed to the beneficiaries. The tax is primarily charged on estates valued above a certain threshold, to redistribute wealth and fund public services.

Key Concepts

  1. Nil Rate Band (NRB): The NRB is the threshold below which IHT is not payable. As of 2023, this threshold is £325,000. Any part of the estate valued above this amount is typically subject to IHT at a rate of 40%.
  2. Residence Nil Rate Band (RNRB): Introduced to reduce the IHT burden on family homes, the RNRB allows for an additional £175,000 (as of 2023) to be passed on to direct descendants tax-free.
  3. Chargeable Estate: This includes all assets owned by the deceased, such as property, cash, investments, and personal possessions, minus any debts and liabilities.
  4. Lifetime Gifts: Gifts made during the deceased’s lifetime can affect the IHT calculation. Gifts given more than seven years before death are generally exempt from IHT, while those given within seven years may be subject to tax, depending on their value.

Exemptions and Reliefs

Several exemptions and reliefs can reduce the amount of IHT payable:

  • Spouse or Civil Partner Exemption: Transfers between spouses or civil partners are generally exempt from IHT.
  • Charitable Donations: Gifts to qualifying charities are exempt from IHT.
  • Business Relief and Agricultural Relief: Certain business and agricultural assets can qualify for relief, reducing their taxable value.

The Inheritance Tax Payment Process

Valuing the Estate

The first step in the IHT payment process is valuing the estate. This involves:

  1. Identifying Assets: All assets owned by the deceased must be identified, including property, bank accounts, investments, and personal belongings.
  2. Valuing Assets: Accurate valuations are essential. Professional appraisals may be required for significant assets, such as real estate or valuable collections.
  3. Subtracting Liabilities: Outstanding debts, mortgages, and funeral expenses are deducted from the total value of the assets to determine the net estate value.

Calculating the IHT Liability

Once the estate is valued, the IHT liability can be calculated:

  1. Determine the Chargeable Estate: Subtract the NRB and any applicable exemptions or reliefs from the net estate value.
  2. Apply the Tax Rate: The standard rate of IHT is 40%, applied to the chargeable estate.
  3. Consider Lifetime Gifts: Gifts given within seven years of death must be added to the estate value, potentially increasing the IHT liability.

Paying the Tax

IHT is due within six months of the end of the month in which the person died. Failure to pay on time can result in interest and penalties. The payment process involves:

  1. Submitting the IHT Return: The executor must complete and submit the appropriate IHT forms to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). These include IHT400 and IHT421 for estates above the NRB.
  2. Paying the Tax: IHT can be paid from the estate’s assets. If there are insufficient liquid assets, arrangements can be made to pay in installments, particularly for assets such as property.
  3. Claiming Reliefs: Executors should ensure all available reliefs and exemptions are claimed to reduce the IHT liability.

Strategies for Mitigating Inheritance Tax

Effective planning can significantly reduce the IHT burden on an estate. Key strategies include:

Making Lifetime Gifts

Gifting assets during one’s lifetime can reduce the estate’s value, potentially lowering IHT liability.

  • Annual Exemption: Individuals can gift up to £3,000 per year tax-free. Unused allowances can be carried forward one year.
  • Small Gifts Exemption: Gifts of up to £250 per person per year are exempt from IHT.
  • Wedding or Civil Partnership Gifts: Parents can gift £5,000, grandparents £2,500, and others £1,000 tax-free.

Setting Up Trusts

Trusts can be an effective tool for managing and protecting assets while reducing IHT.

  • Discretionary Trusts: These allow trustees to manage and distribute assets according to the trust deed, potentially reducing the estate’s value for IHT purposes.
  • Bare Trusts: Beneficiaries are entitled to the trust assets outright, which can be useful for passing on assets to minors.

Utilising Reliefs

Maximising the use of available reliefs can lower the taxable value of the estate.

  • Business Relief: Reduces the value of qualifying business assets by 50% or 100%.
  • Agricultural Relief: Offers up to 100% relief on qualifying agricultural property.
  • Charitable Giving: Leaving at least 10% of the net estate to charity can reduce the overall IHT rate on the remaining estate to 36%.

Insurance Policies

Taking out a life insurance policy specifically to cover the IHT liability can ensure that beneficiaries receive their inheritance without selling estate assets. The policy should be written in trust to avoid increasing the estate’s value.

Common Challenges in Inheritance Tax Payment

Complex Estates

Large and complex estates can present significant challenges in valuing assets, identifying liabilities, and calculating IHT. Professional advice from solicitors, accountants, and financial advisors is often necessary to navigate these complexities.

Family Disputes

Disagreements among beneficiaries can complicate the administration process and delay the payment of IHT. Clear communication and mediation can help resolve disputes, but legal intervention may be required in some cases.

Liquidity Issues

Estates consisting primarily of illiquid assets, such as property, can face difficulties in paying IHT within the required timeframe. Executors may need to sell assets or arrange payment plans with HMRC to meet tax obligations.

Changes in Legislation

IHT laws and thresholds can change, affecting estate planning and tax liabilities. Keeping abreast of legislative changes and adjusting estate plans accordingly is crucial for minimising IHT.

The Role of Solicitors in Inheritance Tax Planning and Payment

Providing Expert Advice

Solicitors play a critical role in helping clients navigate IHT. They provide expert advice on:

  • Estate Planning: Structuring wills, trusts, and gifts to optimise tax efficiency.
  • Valuing Estates: Ensuring accurate valuations and identifying eligible reliefs.
  • Completing IHT Returns: Assisting with the completion and submission of IHT forms to HMRC.

Dispute Resolution

In cases of disputes, solicitors can offer mediation services and represent clients in court if necessary. They work to resolve conflicts amicably and ensure that the estate is administered according to the deceased’s wishes.

Ongoing Support

Solicitors provide ongoing support to executors and beneficiaries throughout the administration process, from initial valuations to the final distribution of assets. Their guidance helps ensure compliance with legal requirements and timely payment of IHT.

Case Studies

Effective Use of Trusts

A client with a substantial estate wanted to reduce their IHT liability while ensuring their grandchildren’s financial security. DLS Solicitors recommended setting up a discretionary trust and transferring significant assets into the trust. This strategy reduced the estate’s value for IHT purposes and provided a flexible mechanism for managing and distributing assets to the grandchildren.

Charitable Giving

A client wished to leave a legacy to their favourite charity while minimising IHT. By structuring their will to leave 10% of the net estate to charity, DLS Solicitors helped reduce the overall IHT rate on the remaining estate from 40% to 36%. This approach provided significant tax savings and supported the client’s philanthropic goals.

Business Relief

A client owning a family business sought to ensure continuity without a substantial IHT burden. DLS Solicitors advised restructuring the business assets to qualify for business relief, reducing the taxable value by 100%. This allowed the business to remain operational and pass seamlessly to the next generation.


Inheritance tax can be a complex and daunting aspect of estate planning. Understanding the intricacies of IHT, the payment process, and mitigation strategies can significantly ease the burden on both the estate and its beneficiaries.

At DLS Solicitors, we are committed to providing comprehensive support and expert guidance in all matters related to Inheritance Tax. Whether you are planning your estate or navigating the IHT payment process as an executor or beneficiary, our experienced team is here to help.

Effective inheritance tax planning ensures your wishes are honoured, and your beneficiaries are well cared for. Regularly reviewing and updating your estate plan, considering tax planning strategies, and seeking professional advice can provide your loved ones peace of mind and financial security.

In conclusion, dealing with Inheritance Tax is not just about compliance; it’s about preserving legacies and ensuring the efficient transfer of wealth to future generations. At DLS Solicitors, we are dedicated to guiding you through this important process with expertise, empathy, and a commitment to excellence.


This site contains general legal information but does not constitute professional legal advice for your particular situation. Persuing this glossary does not create an attorney-client or legal adviser relationship. If you have specific questions, please consult a qualified attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.

This glossary post was last updated: 11th July 2024.

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Our team of professionals are based in Alderley Edge, Cheshire. We offer clear, specialist legal advice in all matters relating to Family Law, Wills, Trusts, Probate, Lasting Power of Attorney and Court of Protection.

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