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Report highlights changes that could simplify Inheritance Tax

Report highlights changes that could simplify Inheritance Tax

The Office of Tax Simplification (OTS) has published its second report on Inheritance Tax. The report comes after the Chancellor requested a review of administrative and technical aspects of the tax back in January 2018. The first report was released in November 2018 and covered the administration of Inheritance Tax. This second report now explores the key complexities and technical issues that arise from the way the tax works.

The OTS followed a consultation process which included an online survey that received almost 3,000 responses, and a call for evidence which saw 500 email and 100 written responses. Additionally, the OTS received contributions from representative bodies, professional advisers and academics, among others. They also consulted with a wide range of organisations, including Kings Court Trust. With the astounding levels of interest shown about the review, the OTS has highlighted how the tax is unpopular and often misunderstood among members of the public.

The video below has been created by the OTS to provide a high-level summary of what the Inheritance Tax report is about:

 

The OTS has highlighted that fewer than 5% of all deaths (25,000 estates) are subject to Inheritance Tax each year. However, around 275,000 Inheritance Tax forms are still completed. OTS Chairman, Kathryn Cearns OBE said:

Although only a small number of people pay Inheritance Tax each year, a far greater number worry about it. The OTS’s packages of recommendations would go some way to achieving the goal of making the tax easier to understand and simpler to comply with.

In this second report, the OTS makes 11 recommendations which aim to make the structure of Inheritance Tax clearer and easier to understand. The recommendations are focused on three main areas which include lifetime gifts, interaction with Capital Gains Tax, and business and farms. Some of the key recommendations made by the report include:

1. Lifetime gifts

From consultations, the OTS found that the way in which the tax works in relation to gifts is complex, confusing and can require extensive record keeping. Therefore, they’ve suggested:

  • Introducing an overall personal gifts allowance to replace the various lifetime gift exemptions. They suggest setting the allowance to a sensible level and incorporating a small gifts allowance. Additionally, they advise that the government should either reform the exemption for normal expenditure out of income or replace it for a higher personal gift allowance.
  • Reducing the period during which a lifetime gift may be subject to Inheritance Tax to five years instead of the current seven-year period.
  • Abolishing taper relief which is the rate of Inheritance Tax on gifts made more than three years before the date of death.
  • The 14-year rule means that gifts made outside of the seven-year period need to be accounted for when calculating the Inheritance Tax due. The OTS recommends removing the need to account for gifts made outside of the seven-year period.
  • Exploring options to simplify and clarify the rules on who is liable to pay tax on lifetime gifts and the allocation of the Nil Rate Band.

2. Capital Gains Tax

The report highlights how

“the interaction between Inheritance Tax and Capital Gains Tax is complex and can distort decision making.”

Typically, there is no Capital Gains Tax on death and the report implies that this stops people from passing assets to the next generation in their lifetime. Therefore, the OTS recommends that Capital Gains Tax should be changed as a result.

3. Businesses and farms

Businesses and farms are often not subject to Inheritance Tax as they may receive relief from the business property relief (BPR) or agricultural property relief (APR). The requirements to qualify for BPR are different from the conditions for Capital Gains Tax business reliefs. As a result, the OTS has identified that if the tests were standardised, it could be easier for business owners to decide whether to pass on their business during their lifetime or upon their death.

4. Life assurance and pensions

Currently, if a term insurance policy is written in Trust, it can make a huge difference to its Inheritance Tax status. Consequently, the OTS has advised the government to consider making death benefit payments from term life insurance Inheritance Tax free, removing the need for them to be written in Trust.

The OTS provides independent advice on how to simplify the UK’s tax system, to make improvements for taxpayers. It’s now down to the government and parliament to decide whether they wish to implement the changes. If you want to find out more about the recommendations, the full report released by the OTS can be found here.

Source: Kings Court Trust

At Sussex Will Writers, we frequently find that people are confused by the legal and tax affairs associated with administering a deceased person’s estate. Therefore, we hope that any changes that are made to the Inheritance Tax structure effectively simplifies the tax and makes it easier for families to understand.

Sussex Will Writers help to take care of the complicated practicalities after death, so you can focus on life’s important moments. If you have any questions about estate administration or Inheritance Tax, call us on 01903 533681 or get in touch by emailing: info@sussexwillwriters.co.uk

Sussex Will Writers 
T: 01903 533681
M: 07734 744886
E: info@sussexwillwriters.co.uk

This month, Sussex Will Writers are extending their Estate Protection Wills offer all through August. 

You may be able to protect your property from being used to pay for Long Term Care fees

10% DISCOUNT ON THE USUAL FEE OF £580 FOR MIRROR ESTATE PROTECTION WILLS INSTRUCTED DURING AUGUST

If you would like to find out how Estate Protection Wills can help your family, please call Steve Worsfold at Sussex Will Writers to receive a 10% Discount from the usual fee of £580 for Mirror Estate Protection Wills instructed during August.

Available: Until 31st August, 2019

Simply enter the discount code on the CONTACT FORM, along with your email and telephone number or quote the deal code over the phone when speaking with Steve. 

 

Copy and paste or type the code into the contact form or quote it when speaking to Steve. 

     SWWAUG19

 

Severe Delays Continue for Probate Applications: Update

Severe Delays Continue for Probate Applications: Update

Back in May 2019, we wrote about how probate registries in England and Wales were suffering from processing delays on Grant of Probate and Grant of Letter of Administration applications. We’re now a couple of months down the line and the backlog continues. Therefore, we wanted to provide our clients and business partners with another update.

The delays originally came after the rollout of a new IT case management system which dramatically slowed down processing applications. Despite government claims that the issues with the IT system have now been resolved, Executors, Administrators and estate administration providers are still waiting for Grants to be issued.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice said:

“Our new online service is making probate simpler and more convenient for bereaved people. Some grants are experiencing delays of two to four weeks and we are working hard to bring waiting times down further. We apologise for any inconvenience caused.”

A Grant of Probate or Grant of Letter of Administration gives an Executor or Administrator the authority to act in the administration of a deceased person’s estate. Therefore, the delays have left those responsible unable to progress with the administration of estates.

The Law Society Gazette reported that before the delays, Grants were being issued within seven to 10 working days. However, people are now reportedly suffering from delays of up to 13 weeks.

Simon Hart, MP for Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire, posed a written question to the Secretary of State for Justice:

“what assessment has been made of the level of delays in the granting of probate as a consequence of the transition to the new online probate system.”

On 18 June 2019, Paul Maynard, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Ministry of Justice, responded

“Urgent action has been taken to address the delays which have been experienced in the probate service. Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service is increasing staffing levels and further improving the digital service to help reduce waiting times.”

At Sussex Will Writers, we are doing everything we can to lessen the impact of the delays on those who have entrusted us to take care of their estate administration. We are frequently communicating with the Probate Registries to understand their current position and to progress our applications as quickly as possible. 

In a recent webinar about the reform of HM Courts and Tribunal Service (HMCTS), it was revealed that the probate registries are working very hard to catch up with the backlog. They’ve added around 30 members of staff, plus additional legal experts. They’ve advised those awaiting Grants to avoid calling wherever possible as this will slow down the process.

The Kings Court Trust have reported that additionally, the webinar shared new information about the government’s plans to close local probate registries and move the work to just one central location in Birmingham, as announced in April 2019. It was revealed that the reform will improve the accessibility to probate registries by centralising all calls into Birmingham. This means that HMCTS will be able to marshal the skills and knowledge into a single point, and manage the consistency of response both in knowledge and in speed of service. Plus, it is planned that the system will also allow professionals to check for updates on their Grants so that they will no longer need to call the registry.

Sussex Will Writers remain committed to providing our families and business partners with updates about the backlogs as and when we receive them.

Source: Kings Court Trust

Steve Worsfold has many years of experience in advice and guidance when it comes to making Probate applications. Get in touch with Steve by phone or email to discuss how he can help you navigate the complex procedures of obtaining a Grant of Probate. 

Steve Worsfold, Sussex Will Writers 
T: 01903 533681
M: 07734 744886
E: steve@sussexwillwriters.co.uk

This month, Sussex Will Writers are extending their Estate Protection Wills offer all through August.

You may be able to protect your property from being used to pay for Long Term Care fees

10% DISCOUNT ON THE USUAL FEE OF £580 FOR MIRROR ESTATE PROTECTION WILLS INSTRUCTED DURING AUGUST.

If you would like to find out how Estate Protection Wills can help your family, please call Steve Worsfold at Sussex Will Writers to receive a 10% Discount from the usual fee of £580 for Mirror Estate Protection Wills instructed during August. 

Available: Until 31st August, 2019

Simply enter the discount code on the CONTACT FORM, along with your email and telephone number or quote the deal code over the phone when speaking with Steve. 

 

Copy and paste or type the code into the contact form or quote it when speaking to Steve. 

     SWWAUG19

 

What is Inheritance Tax and who pays it?

What is Inheritance Tax and who pays it?

This article looks at how Inheritance Tax works and which other taxes HMRC applies to the estate of a deceased person. 

When someone dies, their estate – their cumulative assets, money, investments and possessions, less any debts – will be passed on to their beneficiaries. These are usually family members but may also include friends and charities. If the deceased has left a Will, the beneficiaries will be named. The Will will also name an Executor – a person who the deceased has entrusted to ensure that their wishes are carried out. In the case of intestacy, where there is no Will, the entitled beneficiaries must be established in accordance with the rules of intestacy. This will be the role of the Administrator (who has exactly the same duties as the Executor – where there is a Will).

Whether you are the Executor or the Administrator, you will have responsibility for ensuring that all debts and taxes due are paid before any money and assets are distributed from the estate. This is a legal requirement and failure to carry out these duties can have serious consequences, which is why many people choose to appoint a professional adviser.

What is Inheritance Tax and who pays it?

Inheritance Tax is a tax on the deceased’s estate after they die. You may sometimes also hear the phrase ‘death duties’, though this term is now redundant as Inheritance Tax consolidated these multiple duties into a single tax in 1986. Technically, Inheritance Tax is a transfer tax on the net collective value of an estate as it passes from one person – the deceased – to another person(s). Like any other tax, it is collected by HMRC and like any other tax, there are requirements governing its payment and penalties for failure to comply.

How much Inheritance Tax do I have to pay?

Every estate benefits from a threshold of value below which no Inheritance Tax is payable. This is currently £325k, so if the deceased’s estate is valued at less than this, you will not need to pay any Inheritance Tax – though you will still have to complete the Inheritance Tax forms and show that the estate has been accurately valued. The exception to this rule is the estate of a married couple or civil partners (a couple joined by a civil partnership) where the first to pass away has left their entire estate to the surviving spouse or partner. In this case, you will not need to pay any Inheritance Tax unless the value of the estate exceeds £650k when the second person dies.

Inheritance Tax is levied at a rate of 40% on the net value of the estate beyond the nil-rate threshold. The net value of the estate is calculated by working out the gross value – the total worth of all assets – and then deducting any debts, such as mortgages, loans and credit card bills and bequests to charities. You also need to look at whether they made gifts of more than £3k to anyone in the seven years prior to their death – these would exceed the tax-free gift allowance and would therefore be considered as part of the taxable estate. There are also some exclusions that apply to certain types of landholding and to overseas property bequeathed to an overseas citizen. In these cases, you will almost certainly need the support of a professional adviser to accurately calculate a value for Inheritance Tax.

Who calculates Inheritance Tax?

It will be up to the Executor or Administrator to calculate the value of the estate and to identify any and all applicable deductions. In very small or simple estates this can be fairly straightforward but it’s surprising how quickly things can become complicated. Valuing property, art, antiques, jewellery and investments can often take time and require expert advice. A professional Administrator will take care of all of this for you.

When does Inheritance Tax have to be paid?

A Grant of Probate will not be given until confirmation is received from HMRC that all due Inheritance Tax has been paid. Since the Grant of Probate is the key to unlocking the estate for distribution to any beneficiaries, this means in practical terms that HMRC expects you to pay Inheritance Tax before you do anything else. Inheritance Tax should be paid within six months of death. If you do not pay it within this time, HMRC will start to charge interest on the overdue sum.

This may be another reason for seeking professional advice and support in calculating the value of the estate and completing HMRC’s Inheritance Tax forms. Also, any delay in paying Inheritance Tax will delay the distribution of the estate to other beneficiaries, which can lead to friction and conflict.

Which other HMRC taxes apply?

This will depend on the deceased person’s circumstances but there may be Income Tax due on earnings during the year until their death. This may include any rent collected on property and earnings from investments in the UK and overseas. You will need to complete a tax return for the estate on this income.

In some cases, Capital Gains Tax may also be payable if the value of the deceased’s property and any other sold assets has risen since they were valued for probate purposes. Beneficiaries inherit assets at their probate value so if this rises they are liable to pay Capital Gains Tax on the increase.

What happens if I don’t pay or don’t pay the right amount?

As the Executor or Administrator, you are responsible for accurately calculating and declaring any taxes payable from the estate. This is a legal responsibility and not to be taken lightly. Failure to discharge these duties accurately may leave you personally liable for any fines and interest due, particularly if you have subsequently distributed the value of the estate to other beneficiaries; they are under no obligation to provide funds to pay towards any miscalculations.

Source: Kings Court Trust

Steve Worsfold is an estate administrator with many years of experience in advice and guidance when it comes to Inheritance Tax. Get in touch with Steve by phone or email to discuss how he can help you navigate the complex procedures of Inheritance Tax. 

Steve Worsfold, Sussex Will Writers 
T: 01903 533681
M: 07734 744886
E: steve@sussexwillwriters.co.uk

or complete the form below.

This month, Sussex Will Writers are extending their Estate Protection Wills offer all through August.

You may be able to protect your property from being used to pay for Long Term Care fees

10% DISCOUNT ON THE USUAL FEE OF £580 FOR MIRROR ESTATE PROTECTION WILLS INSTRUCTED DURING AUGUST.

If you would like to find out how Estate Protection Wills can help your family, please call Steve Worsfold at Sussex Will Writers to receive a 10% Discount from the usual fee of £580 for Mirror Estate Protection Wills instructed during August. 

Available: Until 31st August, 2019

Simply enter the discount code on the CONTACT FORM, along with your email and telephone number or quote the deal code over the phone when speaking with Steve. 

 

Copy and paste or type the code into the contact form or quote it when speaking to Steve. 

     SWWAUG19

 

Severe Delays to Probate Processing in Ministry of Justice IT Restructure and Fees Increase

Probate Registries in England and Wales are currently reporting severe delays on Grant of Probate and Grant of Letter of Administration applications. Due to the rollout of a new IT case management system, the process has been dramatically slowed down. This means that it’s taking longer for the Registries to process applications for Grants of Probate and Letters of Administration.  

The delays are causing issues for Executors, Administrators and estate administration providers as they cannot progress the administration of an estate without the Grant. A Grant of Probate or Grant of Letter of Administration gives an Executor or Administrator the authority to act in the administration of a deceased person’s estate. As an example, the Grant enables the Executor or Administrator to sell a property in the sole name of the deceased.

At Sussex Will Writers, we are being proactive and trying to do everything we can to lessen the impact of the delays on the families who entrust us to take care of their estate administration. 

The new IT software was reportedly installed at the end of March 2019 in readiness of digitising and centralising the Grant application process later this year. It was at the same time that the recently proposed changes to probate fees were due to be implemented. With this in mind, there has been an unprecedented amount of applications made to avoid the new probate fee applying; thus contributing to the backlogs caused by the introduction of the IT software.

The government’s plan is to replace the current flat fee of £215 for individuals (or £155 for professional bodies) with a new, banded structure of fees. Prices would range from a £250 fee for estates worth £50,000-£300,000 to £6,000 fee for estates valued at more than £2million. There is as yet no implementation for this.

Additionally, the plan is to close local Probate Registries and move the work to just one central location. The ten regional Probate Registries that remain will supposedly scale back operations before shutting down for good. The probate services are then expected to operate out of Birmingham’s Courts and Tribunals Service Centre and all applications will be made online.

Sussex Will Writers are committed to providing you with updates on these delays as and when we receive notification of them. 

Sussex Will Writers offer a Probate Service in association with Assured Probate Services, helping you to navigate the process of estate administration after the death of a loved one. See our Probate Service page HERE and feel free to contact us on 01903 533681 or 07734 744886 if you’d like us to help you with estate administration.

Source: Kings Court Trust

You may be able to protect your property from being used to pay for Long Term Care fees

Without making any guarantees, certain styles of Wills and Trusts could enable the whole of your estate to pass to those you intend, even if the Local Authority Care is needed by the survivor.

Due to the complex nature of the care system many people are unsure of who should be paying what towards care costs, or whether they qualify for limited state benefits.

You may be able to protect your property from being used to pay for Long Term Care fees

If you want your assets to pass to your family then you will need to be proactive. Our Estate Protection Trust Wills have the effect of placing some of your estate out of the reach of the Local Authority, potentially avoiding the enforced sale of your home and restricting the amount they can take into consideration for payment. This is possible without losing total control over your main asset, your home.

If you would like to find out how Estate Protection Wills can help your family, please call Steve Worsfold at Sussex Will Writers.

 

Plans to Close Probate Registries

According to the Law Society Gazette, the Ministry of Justice plans to close local probate registries and move the work to just one central location in Birmingham. Currently, there are ten remaining regional probate registries in England and Wales and staff have reportedly been informed of plans to scale back operations and shut down the sites in due course.

Supposedly, the plan is to eventually move probate services to Birmingham’s Courts and Tribunals Service Centre. Members of staff at the Birmingham Probate Registry have reportedly been advised that their jobs could be affected, however, employees at the other locations are still awaiting more information.

The Law Society Gazette shared how “A spokesperson for HM Courts & Tribunals Service said that no staff have been put on notice of redundancy and the department is ‘working hard to ensure it stays that way’.”

The spokesperson added: “Courts and Tribunals Service Centres [CTSCs] are a key part of our £1 billion Reform Programme and will ensure we deliver better services for all court users. As we move work to the first two CTSCs, staff in existing centres will need to be moved into new roles. These changes will be gradual and our priority is to support employees throughout the process and help them find suitable, alternative roles.”

The anticipated closures come as part of HM Courts and Tribunals Service’s (HMCTS) £1 billion Reform Programme which “aims to bring new technology and modern ways of working to the way justice is administered”.

With the recent expansion of the online probate application service, there should theoretically be less pressure on regional probate registries. This is due to the fact that the expansion aimed to make it simpler and easier to apply for a Grant of Probate online. The new system allows up to four joint Executors to apply, pay and swear a statement of truth online, reducing the need for Executors to visit a probate registry or solicitor’s office.

Applying for probate is just one small part of handling an individual’s affairs after they’ve passed away. This process is known as estate administration. The Executor(s) or Administrator must also deal with all their assets (including property, personal possessions, bank accounts and shares), paying any debts, Inheritance Tax and Income Tax, and transferring inheritance to the beneficiaries.

Sussex Will Writers offer a Probate Service in association with Assured Probate Services, helping you to navigate the process of estate administration after the death of a loved one. See our Probate Service page HERE and feel free to contact us on 01903 533681 or 07734 744886 if you’d like us to help you with estate administration.

Source: Kings Court Trust

The Increasing Need for End of Life Care

Recently published official statistics from Public Health England revealed that in 2018, there were 10.1 English care home beds for every 100 people aged 75 years and older and 4.9 nursing home beds for every 100 people aged 75+. Both figures show that the trend over the last 5 years is gradually decreasing, resulting in less care and nursing home beds for the older generation.

Public Health England published the care home and nursing bed rates in their February 2019 end of life care profiles update. In their methodology, Public Health England state that “The rates describe the availability of residential and nursing home beds in comparison with the size of the population aged 75 years and older (as published by the Office for National Statistics). The ratio of beds to older population is a crude measure of care home bed availability.”

With an increasing population of older people, the demand for residential care and nursing home beds is predicted to rise. According to the Care Quality Commission, this could be by as much as 71,000 by 2025. The NHS Long Term Plan recognises the need to upgrade the support currently provided to care home residents.

The February 2018 end of life care profiles update provides even more insight into this area. The update explores 2016 mortality data, specifically looking at the percentage of deaths in hospitals, care homes, at home and in hospices. The data reveals that in 2016:

• 46.9% of people died in hospital
• 21.8% of people died in care homes
• 23.5% of people died at home
• 5.7% of people died in hospices

Between 2004 and 2016, there has been a decreasing proportion of deaths occurring in hospital and a rising proportion of deaths in care homes, at home and in hospices. In 2004, 57.9% of deaths occurred in hospitals, highlighting an 11% decrease between 2004 and 2016. On the other hand, the percentage of people who died in a care home rose by 5.3% for the same time period. This trend further highlights the importance of ensuring care homes are suitably supported with enough beds to support the increasing need for end of life care.

Planning ahead with your family will almost certainly reduce the likelihood of any misunderstandings about how you want things to be handled when the time comes. It’s important to talk about your preferences for end of life care, including appointing a Lasting Power of Attorney who can make decisions on your behalf if you are no longer able to in the future. The importance of planning for your death cannot be underestimated. Having a plan in place ensures that your loved ones are not subjected to additional stress and upset at an already challenging time.

Sussex Will Writers can help you get a Lasting Power of Attorney in place and help you plan for the inevitable.

Click here to complete our Contact Form for a call back or free, no obligation meeting and begin making plans to protect what’s precious to you. 

Source: Kings Court Trust

Controversial Increase in Probate Fees – Delayed

Information from The Society of Will Writers – 29 March 2019

We reported late last year that probate fees would be rising as the fee structure for obtaining a grant was due to be changed from a fixed fee to a tiered structure based on the value of the estate. This would have resulted in probate fees rising up to £6000 for the highest value estates. This has led to critics of the proposed structure referring to the price raise as a ‘stealth tax’.

This new fee structure was originally due to be implemented on 1 April 2019, but this now appears to have been delayed. A Ministry of Justice spokesperson has confirmed that the increase will not happen as planned this week as the government are currently preoccupied with Brexit. The Statutory Instrument introducing the probate fee increase has therefore missed its deadline to be lain before Parliament and become law by 1 April.

Probate application fees set to explode from 6th April 2019!

As you have no doubt picked up from media articles over the last few months, the Government is implementing a change to the fees for obtaining the Grant of Probate. Historically, the cost has been fixed at £155, but from 6th April 2019 there will be a sliding scale of fees that relate to the value of the estate. It is expected that the fees will be calculated as follows:

  • For estates worth up to £50,000 – there will be no fee
  • For estates worth £50,000 to £300,000 – the fee will be £250
  • For estates worth £300,000 to £500,000 – the fee will be £750
  • For estates worth £500,000 to £1million – the fee will be £2,500
  • For estates worth £1million to £1.6million – the fee will be £4,000
  • For estates worth £1.6million to £2million – the fee will be £5,000
  • For estates worth more than £2million – the fee will be £6,000

With this knowledge, it is even more important to mention the typical costs of ‘Estate Administration’ of which ‘Probate’ is only a part.

How estates are charged varies so much, it is best to shop around. Sussex Will Writers work in conjunction with Assured Probate Services to offer what we believe to be a comprehensive and cost-effective solution with a fixed fee typically of just 1% of the estate value.

The new government fees are fixed and non-negotiable. They are in my view seriously expensive, with no relevance to estate complexity only the size. An estate with one house worth £1million, would have a probate application fee of £4,000.

An estate with two houses, investments, shares, ten bank accounts, IHT issues and possibly shares in the USA, would be extremely complicated and if only valued at £490,000 that’s just £750.00.

If you have any queries, please feel free to call.

Will You Have to Pay Inheritance Tax?

Will You Have to Pay Inheritance Tax?

This week, the BBC Radio 4 programme Money Box tackled the decisions that face many people when it comes to writing a Last Will and Testament and what kind of Will and arrangements are most suitable if you wish to take advantage of the current rules and regulations regarding Inheritance Tax.

Navigating the stony path through rules and regulations around the payment of Inheritance Tax is not as simple and straightforward as it may seem. Since we all have a totally unique set of financial, family, home and health circumstances, each individual person who comes to the task of writing a Will needs to either research the options available to them and make decisions based on freely available advice and guidance or work with an expert financial advisor and planner.

Listen to the programme to find out what the rules are and how they may affect you when it comes to leaving your estate, including property and assets to your loved ones.

For a Free No Obligation Consultation, Contact Steve by filling in your details on the contact form.

 

 

Inheritance and Will Writing News