Inheritance Tax Changes & Your Will

Posted on: 16 July 2008 by Gareth Hargreaves

Expert advice on making your will work for you in light of new IHT nil rate band laws.

The new IHT nil band rate now means that each person is entitled to up to £312,000 without incurring inheritance tax charges, which is charged at 40 per cent over that threshold.

These new nil band rate rules bring great news for some who are yet to make a will. However for many who have made their will before the changes in law, questions have arisen as to whether it should now be updated. For people making a first will are the new rules the only answer or even the perfect answer?

Leading Inheritance Tax expert and partner at Lane-Smith Shindler, Geoffrey Shindler advises that a will made before the changes in law should not be updated for a number of reasons.

The double nil band rate, where a couple could be exempt from 40 per cent tax up to £624,000, is not something that necessarily will always be available. Governments have been known to give tax breaks and then take them away again, so people should not rely on tax breaks always being there.

Geoffrey Shindler explains, "Some people think it is better to take the tax break in the first will rather than leave it to chance that it may still be there on the second death."

For couples wanting to maximise the double nil rate band and not relying on the new rules setting up a Discretionary Trust in the will is advised as the best way of doing this.

On the first death of a couple, the first nil rate band can be placed into trust, which will mean that no IHT is payable. Income and capital are always at the discretion of the trustees who can benefit different people with different amounts in different years. This is a great way for the family to have access to finances yet at the same time protecting them from an IHT liability.

There are many benefits of a Discretionary Trust, advises Mr Shindler.

"First and foremost they allow flexibility for the surviving spouse and for their children, and reduce the IHT estate for the surviving spouse. This means that there is a reduced liability to inheritance tax payable upon death of the second spouse."

In addition to this, there are benefits in the event of divorce.

"The children of the surviving spouse will have their inheritance protected from the new partner perhaps benefiting financially.”

There are ways of making a will work for the individual. However it can be complicated to make the savings work. Each individual case is different and must be assessed individually by a legal expert.

For now, those who have made a will, advice is to keep the will remaining the same as it was before the new nil band rate.

For those who have not yet made a will they will have to choose between the Discretionary Trust route in the first will or hope the current rules stay in place as the way of reducing a family's liability to inheritance tax.

Geoffrey ShindlerGeoffrey Shindler

Web Links

For further information and advice on wills and trusts, you can visit or contact Geoffrey Shindler on 0845 658 4848.

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