Gifts made before someone dies may be liable for inheritance Tax (IHT) unless they are made from income or are in an exempt category.
When an estate is administered, the Executor or Administrator will have to assess gifts that have been given by the deceased during their lifetime and decide whether or not they should be included in IHT calculations.
Gifts given during the last seven years of a person’s life may be liable for IHT. There are some exceptions to this, including the giving of gifts from surplus income.
Inheritance Tax on gifts
A maximum of £3,000 can be gifted each year free of IHT and, if not used, this allowance can be carried over for a single year. Single gifts of £250 do not attract IHT when made to different people.
Money can be given to family or friends who are getting married or entering into a civil partnership, in the sum of £5,000 for children, £2,500 for grandchildren and £1,000 for anyone else.
Payments made to support children under 18 or elderly relatives are usually exempt from IHT.
Gifts given from income may be exempt from IHT where they can be shown to be normal expenditure out of income.
Other gifts given in the seven years before death will be liable for IHT on a sliding scale where the value of the estate exceeds the IHT threshold, which is currently £325,000.
Gifts given out of income
For a gift given out of income to qualify for exemption from IHT, it must be possible to prove the following, to the satisfaction of HM Revenue and Customs:
1. The gift is normal expenditure
The giving will need to be a regular or usual event. The estate Executor or Administrator can look for a pattern of giving over several years to try and establish whether it is an habitual occurrence.
2. The gift is given from income
An exempt gift would usually be made from cash, or possibly from life insurance or pension income. Gifts from assets are not exempt unless the gift was purchased from income specifically to be given.
3. The giver did not need it to live
The gift needs to be given out of income that is deemed surplus to the donor’s requirements. This means that the donor must be able to subsist on their remaining income without resorting to assets.
The rules around the giving of gifts are complicated, so to ensure you make the best decisions for your loved ones and your estate it is advisable to seek expert advice.
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