This article was last updated on 1 March 2021.
This article explains all you need to know about inheritance tax planning trusts.
Not only can a trust help reduce the inheritance tax you and your beneficiaries will pay, but they are also a useful tool for asset protection and to give you flexibility in how you manage your finances. However, it is worth getting advice on setting up a trust.
This is because there are complex rules about setting up such a trust, otherwise, the trust arrangement can actually leave you with more tax to pay to HMRC.
A person who establishes a trust is called the ‘settlor’. The settlor will nominate trustees, who hold the legal interest in the asset and then manage the trust on behalf of the beneficiaries.
Settlors are also often a trustee during their life. This arrangement will all be laid out in a trust deed.
For example, you could set up a trust to pay for a grandchild’s university education or for sustaining a disabled family member for life up to a certain age.
If you, your partner and children who are minors cannot benefit from the property and capital in the trust fund, the property is no longer considered part of your estate.
This is because technically, the assets are no longer in your hands, they belong to the trustees and beneficiaries.
This works as long as you live for over seven years after setting up the trust. If you pass away within 7 years of setting up the trust, you pay the full amount of IHT at 40%.
Here is a useful video about inheritance tax planning and trusts.
There are multiple types of trust you can set up when considering how to manage your estate.
When attempting to reduce inheritance tax on property and assets, most of these will have to be set up during your lifetime. It is important to do your research and get advice from legal advisers to prevent defeating the point and paying more tax.
When you die, an inheritance tax bill of up to 40% on your estate value over the nil rate band can be charged.
The nil rate band is your personal allowance which inheritance tax is not charged on. It is frozen at £325,000 until 2021.
Also, if your heirs are your direct descendants, i.e. your children and grandchildren, there is an additional residence nil rate band. At the moment this is £175,000. Therefore you will not pay inheritance tax on this sum also.
Further, there is a reduced inheritance rate of 36% if the individual leaves over 10% of their possessions to charity.
For more guidance on if inheritance tax is due, the government provides up to date advice and information:https://www.gov.uk/guidance/trusts-and-inheritance-tax
This link also provides you with the forms you need to declare your assets to be taxed: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/inheritance-tax-forms
Yes. Trusts are not tax-free, however, as they have a different tax treatment to the rest of your estate.
Therefore, they are a viable option to reduce the inheritance tax bill you and your beneficiaries have to pay, therefore preserving family wealth.
You will avoid inheritance tax liability if you set up a trust 7 years or more before your death.
You may want to consider setting up a trust because otherwise, your beneficiaries could face a very large inheritance tax bill once you pass away. This may mean they have to sell property and investments etc.
By using inheritance tax planning trusts, you can ensure that your beneficiaries inherit the shares and assets you want them to, without facing a vast tax bill.
All adults with capacity can set up a trust, and there are many companies that can help you do this.
Couples can also set up a trust together to manage how the surviving spouse can remain in the family home but still allow the value of the property to be passed onto the younger generations.
You should consult a solicitor, wealth adviser, or accountant. Setting up a trust is a complex process, and if the steps are not done correctly, you could end up paying the taxman more money.
When you die, under intestacy rules, your assets can pass to a spouse or civil partner without having to pay inheritance tax IHT.
However, when they die, they will still have to pay iht. Something to consider is that if you are in a couple, you can transfer your unused nil-rate band to the spouse who dies second, which means they have double the normal nil rate band.
Yes. Many people think you do not have to pay any tax to pay on a trust- this is not true. You generally pay 20% IHT if the assets are over the nil rate band.
There are exemptions to this rule, like if you continue to benefit from the trust fund assets. In addition to inheritance tax, trustees must pay income tax and capital gains tax on income from the trust assets and any chargeable gains from the trust.
It is worth seeking legal advice to help with estate planning.
However, the most common type of trust is a discretionary trust, because you can change the beneficiaries.
This is helpful to safeguard your legacy where a beneficiary goes bankrupt or has a divorce. If your trust has a particular aim and you know who you want to benefit, you may want a bare trust, so beneficiaries have a right to the trust value.
Most trusts will be discretionary, which means the trustees get some say in how trust assets are distributed.
When you set up the trust, you pay 20% charge on the value over the nil rate band, also called your personal allowance.
At present, the personal allowance is £325,000. Then, every 10 years, you pay 6% tax on the value of money in the tax over your personal allowance. Finally, when you close the tax or remove the assets in it, you pay an exit charge of 6%.
The rate of this tax charge is based on the most recent calculation at a 10 year anniversary, calculated on a pro-rata basis.
It depends on the trust and the assets. On top of the 20% inheritance tax charge on assets over your personal allowance when setting up the trust, you will also have to pay legal costs.
This includes advice when establishing the trust, appointing professional trustees, and conveyancing charges whenever you transfer money in and out of the trust. It generally will cost over £1000 to set up a trust.
Every 10 years, there will be a periodic tax payment on the money over the nil rate band. The maximum rate is 6%.
Interest in possession trusts will be liable to pay the 10-year inheritance tax charge.
Trusts are not tax-free. If you have a discretionary trust, every 10 years you will have to pay a charge on the money in the trust in excess of £325,000. This charge at the moment is 6%.
There are other legal ways to give money to beneficiaries and avoid paying IHT.
First, you can only make gifts of up to 3000 to children before there are tax consequences. Second, setting up a trust gives you more control as the settlor.
When you make a gift, you lose control over the assets, which is a problem if you are making a gift to someone under age 18 or if the beneficiary later gets a divorce or files for bankruptcy. If this happens, the assets will be used to pay their debts.
On the other hand, when you set up a trust, you choose your beneficiaries and as the settlor, you are likely to make yourself a trustee. You can select the beneficiaries and write a ‘letter of wishes’ for when you pass away.
Many lawyers and accountancy firms offer specialist knowledge to help you set up a trust. You may want to appoint the same solicitor as will handle your will and probate.
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