Please be aware separate procedures are needed in Scotland and in some case other parts of the UK.
The Department of Work and Pensions issues a very informative leaflet for survivors following a death in England and Wales. To see this document, click here.
2)Wills and Inheritance Tax<
(Since the 9th October Budget Statement all financial comments/numbers should be checked and are not to be taken as up to date. In some cases Scottish Law will result in different interpretations/actions. Please always seek professional advice.)
Firstly write a Will, your estate otherwise may not be passed on as you require.
A common misunderstanding is that all your estate will get passed on to a surviving partner. This is not necessarily true.
If you make a Will, after all assets are accumulated, above £650,000 for married couples or civil partners will probably incur
Inheritance Tax at 40%. If you were married or in a civil partnership this still applies.
Single person’s get £325,000 Inheritance Tax allowance.
Some Trusts, Property sell offs are being reviewed and may no longer be tax saving or necessary, get advice.
Couples with assets of £650,000 or more can save their heirs £120,000 by providing a discretionary trust so both parties can use the tax-free IHT allowance.
If you haven’t a Will and your estate would be worth over £450,000, then partners may only get £250,000 and the rest is shared between blood and marriage relatives. Tax will be paid at 40%.
Think about what you want to leave and to whom.
Remember codicils to a Will can be cheaper than getting your Will rewritten, but also document where you file them and tell people where they are. Also the codicils highlight your most recent thoughts.
For a quick guide and contact details for solicitors click here. http://www.lawsociety.org.uk/home.law
For more information and an explanation of the strict legal formula if you die intestate, click here.
For making a will online, Google search can be used, click here for one of the big names, cost about £40 per person.
Citizens Advice has help on wills and getting a will correctly signed, click here.
3)Secondly on Inheritance Tax..<
If all assets are very low i.e. less than £10,000 then things can be very easy.
If all assets are below £240,000 then you need to complete forms in IHT205.
If assets are above £240,000 then you need to complete forms IHT200 and others.
Be prepared to specify all gifts ( property & money) given in the last seven years. Note Gifts between husband and wife are exempt.
Annual gifts to children can be £3000, and £5000 on marriage.
You can make as many gifts of £250 as you want to different individuals.
Be prepared to provide a cash flow over the last seven years to demonstrate gifts can come out of income.
Be prepared to complete possibly in excess of 50 pages of forms.
You will need an evaluation of all stocks and shares, property, and other assets. So get the financial pages on the day of death so you get the correct evaluation.
If you have made a Trust in order to avoid IHT please try and check it is still working within the allowed rules and correct yearly by seeking professional advice. The rules are changing with every budget. For example it has recently been announced that non-working spouses who did not contribute financially to building up a couple’s assets could not take advantage of a commonly used device involving a loan arrangement to shield some of their wealth from IHT.
The Times has information on Inheritance Tax and other Tax planning, please click here.
4)Points of General Interest<
Please try to arrange your financial affairs so someone i.e. your executors, can find all the records and can interpret them.
Remember to record where your Will and details of major assets are.
Remember to keep at least seven years of financial history.
In some cases having Joint Tenancy ownership means that only one person can claim the allowance on property, whereas Tenants in Common ownership enables each of you to own 50% of the property and each claim that as part of your £600,000 Inheritance Tax allowance. Please seek financial advice.
You can minimise your Inheritance Tax exposure by seeking professional advice, but remember this should be verified annually as the Chancellor has a habit of trying to remove the facilities that avoid people paying this tax.
Plan for the bank accounts of the deceased person to be closed, joint accounts can under some circumstances also be closed on death unless you have stated joint account and surviving spouse.
Remember Probate can take a number of months so you must plan to be able to pay bills from a surviving spouse’s account for this period (six to twelve months or more if a complicated estate). A limited number of expenses ( like funeral expenses) can in some case come from a closed account.
On Inheritance Tax very helpful helplines and websites are available :
08453020900 is the Government Inheritance Tax and Probate help line.
www.hmrc.gov.uk/cto for Inheritance Tax, Capital Gains Tax advice and forms.
www.hmcourts-service.gov.uk/cms for information on Wills and the Probate Service.
Other online help sites are : www.direct.gov.uk and www.step.org
5)Are you trying to track a lost pension?<
There is a government service which can help you track lost pensions. Click here to start your search, or call the Pension Tracing Service on 08456002537.
6)Are you trying to find accounts/savings?<
The tracing schemes of the British Bankers Association (BBA) , the Building Societies Association (BSA) , and National Savings & Investments ( NS&I) – which also covers Premium Bonds, have been combined so users can start their search. The system prepares the forms which can take up to 3 months to process. Click here to start your search.
For £18 you can search the Unclaimed Assets Register for “lost” Life Policies, Pensions, Unit Trust Holdings and share dividends from many companies. Click here for the Unclaimed Assets Register.
For information on “lost” company shares call 08703333636 or click here to go to the Companies House website.
If you suspect a company has gone into liquidation you may find information by clicking here
The New Capital Gains Tax: click here to go to the government tax site on CG