Inheritance Tax (IHT) is levied on a person’s estate when they die and can also be payable during a person’s lifetime on certain trusts and gifts. The current IHT nil rate band is £325,000 per person, below which no IHT is payable. This is the amount that can be passed on free of IHT as a tax-free threshold.
In most cases, an exemption from IHT is available on assets that are passed on death to a surviving spouse or civil partner. Unlike some countries, there is no similar provisions in the UK for exempt transfers between siblings, who have lived together for many years. A new Bill that would amend the existing rules and provide relief for siblings under specific scenarios is currently making its way through the House of Lords.
This Bill, upon receiving Royal Assent, will allow a surviving sibling to benefit from an IHT exemption. The surviving sibling would need to be over the age of 30 and have lived with their sibling for more than 7 years before the date of death. For the purposes of this Bill, siblings are defined as sisters, brothers, half-sisters and half-brothers.
These changes, whilst not having an impact on many people, will offer significant benefits for those that do qualify and could help elderly surviving siblings stay in homes that they have lived in for many years. Until these changes become law, there are certain estate planning actions that should be explored if you are in a similar position.