The New Tax Band: What If My Property Is In Trust?

The way properties are judged for Inheritance Tax is about to change.

This month (April 2017), the new Residence Nil Rate Band (RNRB) will be introduced. This new band will allow parents to hand more of their estate over to their children without having to pay Inheritance Tax.

Currently, an individual does not pay Inheritance Tax on an estate worth less than £325,000. This increases to £650,000 for couples.

However, the RNRB, something which former Chancellor George Osborne announced, means an end to Inheritance Tax on the family home for most of us. It is essentially an extension to the current tax-free allowance, but applying solely to property. It initially stands at £100,000, but will increase over the next four years until hitting £175,000 in 2020/21.

In order to qualify for the RNRB, the estate must include a qualifying property – basically a property that the deceased lived in at some point during ownership. That property must also pass to a direct descendant, such as a child or grandchild. Finally, the value of the estate cannot exceed £2 million. For every £2 over this limit that your estate is valued, the relief is reduced by £1.

It could save families a huge amount in tax. Things can, however, become complicated if the property is held in Trust.

Why hold a property in Trust?

Trusts can be very useful for people who want to cut their Inheritance Tax bill. By putting certain assets – like a property – into a Trust, they are not viewed as being part of your estate when the time comes to work out what Inheritance Tax your loved ones will have to pay.

While some forms of Trust will benefit from the RNRB, others will not.

The RNRB will only be available with the following Trusts:

  • A Bare Trust for a lineal descendant
  • An Immediate Post Death Interest Trust for a lineal descendant
  • A disabled person’s Trust for a lineal descendant
  • An 18-25 Trust
  • A bereaved minor’s Trust.

Other Trusts will not benefit, for example if the property is left to a basic Discretionary Trust, RNRB will not be available, even if the beneficiaries of the Trust are a lineal descendant.

So how do we maintain the flexibility and protection that a Discretionary Trust offers whilst ensuring that our clients do not miss out on the RNRA?

One less reported aspect of the RNRA and its impact, is how the Trustees can benefit from a strategy in a little known section of the Inheritance Tax Act 1984 (Section 144) which gives the Trustees the power to make their choice later, and decide who is best to inherit within two years of a death. Two years to pick and choose the best person to receive this new RNRA allowance, that person most likely being the youngest member of the family.

But what if the Trustees forget?

Some clients choose their Spouses to be their Trustees, others choose their children and some may pick “John” from down the pub. Are these Trustees likely to know that they have two years to jump into action, probably not?

So we shouldn’t risk using Discretionary Trusts, hoping that the Trustees will miraculously remember to do their job? There is much merit in that argument.

The New Flexible Family Trust

What if we were to offer a Discretionary Trust that means our clients do not have to “speculate” who would be the best person to receive the RNRA at the time they make their Will? A Trust that gives the Trustees a chance to choose the best person at the date of death, BUT also ensures that if the Trustees neglect to do so, the allowance will be received REGARDLESS by default in the terms of the Trust.

We therefore present the
NEW FLEXIBLE FAMILY TRUST!

Our new Trust ticks all of the boxes. The flexibility within two years of death to “pick the right person” but also with the security in knowing that if the Trustees are “sitting on their hands”, the trust defaults for them, ensuring that the relief is never lost.

Jon O’Brien from Finance North Estate Planning Services says: “Working out exactly who should get what after you pass away takes a lot of thought and planning. Getting a comprehensive Will in place is crucial. Please come and speak to us today on 0161 771 2056 to receive expert advice.”