Inheritance tax is enormously unpopular to say the least. A YouGov poll found that 59% of the public deemed it unfair, making it the least popular of Britain’s 11 major taxes. What’s more, the tax has a limited revenue raising ability, with the ‘well advised’ often using gifts, trusts, business property relief and agricultural relief to avoid paying so much.
As it stands, the tax affects just 4% of British estates and contributes only 77p of every £100 of total taxation. This puts the tax in the awkward position of being both highly unpopular and raising very little revenue. At the moment, the inheritance tax threshold stands at £325,000 per person. If you own your own home and are leaving it to a direct descendant in your will, this lifts the threshold by an additional £125,000 in the 2018-19 tax year (the nil-rate band), to £450,000. Anything above this is subject to a 40% tax.
On 16 August, Aretha Franklin passed away, aged 76, in hospice care after battling pancreatic cancer. She didn’t leave a will. This leaves her four sons and other family members to work out her total assets and divide them amongst themselves.
After the mourning process, the practical concerns around a death take hold. When someone dies without a will, these are much more complicated to resolve. And when the person concerned is a celebrity, these complications have an unfortunate tendency to play out on the public stage. Continue reading →
Being a grandparent is an exciting time of life. You get all the enjoyment of doing fun activities with your grandchildren but can hand them back at the end of the day. Part of that pleasure is knowing that you can help them financially. Often you’re at a stage of your life where you’re comfortably off and in a position where you want to give a helping hand to the next generation.
Inheritance tax (IHT) has existed in the UK for over 300 years. In its current form, it was brought in to replace the old Capital Transfer Tax; a measure that was brought in itself as a form of wealth distribution in order to regulate disparity between rich and poor.
Although in concept the idea is quite simple, in reality, the caveats and bureaucracy surrounding it in its present form can make it difficult to get your head around. In fact, this January, Chancellor Philip Hammond called the current system “particularly complex” and appealed to the Office for Tax Simplification (OTS) to hold a review of it. In his communication with them he stated: “I would be most interested to hear any proposals you may have for simplification, to ensure that the system is fit for purpose and makes the experience of those who interact with it as smooth as possible.” Continue reading →
It’s one of the scary things about growing old, isn’t it? We’re all living longer, thanks to medical science but does that mean more of us are going to end up in a care home, struggling to find the means to pay for it?
A year in a care home can cost more than £50,000. This means some families are accumulating huge bills. If you have assets of more than £23,250 (slightly more in Scotland and Wales), the law states that you must fund all your care costs yourself, without any help from the Local Authority. This figure includes property, so if you have your own home, you won’t be eligible for any support.
As a result, many families are finding themselves facing a significant gap when it comes to funding care for their loved ones. This added financial burden comes at what can often be a sad and stressful time anyway.
One way some families are funding the cost of care is through the value of their home; equity release or a lifetime mortgage, as it is sometimes known. This allows anyone over 55 to bor
Row of typical English terraced houses in West Hampstead, London
row against the value of their home. You can draw money to about 50% of your property’s value and there are no monthly repayments. The interest rolls up at a compound rate until the person borrowing the amount dies. To protect you, the total debt can never exceed the value of your home and will be cleared from the eventual sale of the property.
It’s worth noting that interest rates tend to be higher than standard mortgages but there are no affordability checks or repayment plans. You can decide whether you take the money as a lump sum or in stages.
There are different ways of using equity release. Most people would prefer to stay in their own home for as long as possible rather than move into a home, so one option can be to use the money to make home improvements and adapt the property to their needs as they grow older. Installing a wet room or a moving a bathroom downstairs, for example, can often be practical solutions.
It is more difficult to use equity release to fund care home costs. In fact, according to a Daily Telegraph survey in 2017, only 1% of respondents gave that as a reason, compared with debt repayment, inheritance gifts, home improvements or to boost disposable income. The complexity stems from the fact that the repayment of the loan is often triggered by the very act of someone moving into long-term care. If one half of a couple, however, needed to go into a care home, it does mean that the property would not need to be sold to repay the debt until their partner died or moved into the home with them.
It’s obviously difficult to predict the length of someone’s stay in a care home so equity release may not always be a straightforward decision but, in some cases, it can be a useful option for quick, upfront funding.
Row of typical English terraced houses in West Hampstead, London
Equity release plans, also known as lifetime mortgages, allow those over the age of 55 to borrow against their home. Thanks to decades of rising house prices, for some older homeowners this can mean there is plenty available to borrow. The number of people opting for these plans saw a 40 per cent increase year-on-year in 2017, with a record breaking £3bn being borrowed. It seems using your house to fund your lifestyle is becoming increasingly popular.
A national saving and investment survey has shown only 7% of people have spoken to their parents about inheritance. One of the most important parts of planning to leave an inheritance is to talk about it. This is obviously not an easy topic and it may be a good idea to set aside some specific family time to have this discussion. This could help avoid any family disputes before and after you are gone. Continue reading →
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