How people can pass on wealth to the next generation
- People have several options to reduce inheritance tax liabilities including:
- Making gifts: Up to £3,000 can be gifted each tax year and is immediately outside your estate for inheritance tax purposes (up to £6,000 if the exemption wasn’t used in the previous tax year). Other gifts will normally only fall outside your estate if you survive for seven years after making them
- Passing on a pension – Most pension pots will not be part of your estate for inheritance tax purposes, so it can be beneficial to consider spending other assets first.
- In addition, if you have more income (pension or otherwise) than you need to maintain your normal standard of living and you regularly gift the excess income away on a habitual basis, these gifts could fall under the ‘normal expenditure out of income’ inheritance tax exemption . This means that they won’t be chargeable to inheritance tax even if you don’t survive seven years (It is best to seek professional advice if looking to rely on this exemption, to ensure the gifted income qualifies);
- Taking out a life insurance policy to cover the tax bill – if your estate is likely to pay inheritance tax, you could consider taking out a whole of life insurance policy placed in trust that will cover the tax bill. Alternatively, if gifting assets to bring your estate below the inheritance tax threshold, a level term life assurance policy that lasts for seven years (the time the gift remains in your estate) may be more appropriate
- Using trusts – if not ready to make outright gifts, the use of trusts allows you to move assets outside your estate, but still retain control over who will benefit and when. As the person setting up the trust, you can’t normally be a trust beneficiary as well. However, there are some trusts (for example, loan trusts) that allow you to retain access to the funds, whilst still offering inheritance tax advantages. When using trusts, financial advice will nearly always be needed.
Saving for a child or grandchild: the options:
Parents have several options when saving for a child or grandchild. Choosing the right one can make a big difference.
Contributing to a pension
Although most people won’t set up a pension until they reach working age, a pension can be started as soon as someone is born. In addition, any contributions made by a parent or grandparent, which can be made directly to the plan as ‘third party contributions’, will be treated for tax relief purposes as if they were made by the beneficiary themself.
This means that contributions paid to a ‘relief at source’ scheme will receive tax relief of 20% (£20 for every £80 net contribution) as long as the gross contributions do not exceed the beneficiary’s relevant UK earnings for the tax year. In addition, where a beneficiary has paid income tax at a higher rate, they will be able to claim the difference directly from HMRC through self-assessment - i.e. a further 20% for a higher rate (40%) tax payer.
Although a child under the age of 18 is unlikely to have relevant UK earnings, total contributions up to the ‘basic amount’ of £2,880 net (£3,600 gross) can be made each year and will still benefit from tax relief.
Although pension contributions can be one of the more tax efficient ways to gift money to a child or grandchild, the drawback is that money is likely to be inaccessible until they reach 57 (normal minimum pension age is rising from 55 to 57 in April 2028). Some people may therefore want to find other ways to help family where there is more chance that they will be around to see their loved ones enjoy the money.
Lifetime ISAs (LISAs)
If the child/grandchild is between 18-40, helping them save into a lifetime ISA (LISA)* can be beneficial, especially if they are trying to raise a deposit for a first home. This is because the Government will add a 25% bonus to deposits of up to £4,000 a year (i.e. £20 for every £80 deposited). However, if withdrawals are made for any purpose other than purchasing a first home, a tax penalty of 25% (i.e. £25 on a withdrawal of £100) will apply unless the individual is terminally ill or aged 60 or above. Since the tax penalty exceeds the initial bonus, it is normally not the most tax-efficient investment if the penalty is likely to be incurred.
* Note that only the child/grandchild, as the account holder, can open and manage their LISA but it’s possible to gift money to an account holder to pay into their LISA.