Inheritance tax thresholds and rates
If you are single and die during the tax year 2015-2016 with an estate worth more than £325,000 (including money, property and investments, but after deducting debts and expenses such as funeral costs), 40% tax will become due on anything above £325,000.
For example, if you leave behind an estate worth £500,000 the tax bill will be £70,000 (40% on £175,000 – the difference between £500,000 and £325,000).
However, if you are married or in a civil partnership, you may be able to leave more than this before paying tax.
Inheritance tax rules for married couples and civil partners
Married couples and civil partners are allowed to pass their possessions and assets to each other tax-free and, since October 2007, the surviving partner is now allowed to use both tax-free allowances (providing one wasn’t used at the first death).
At the extreme, this effectively doubles the amount the surviving partner can leave behind tax-free without the need for special tax planning.
However, some people whose partner died before 21 March 1972 will be caught by a loophole which means they don't get a 'double allowance'.
Making a gift
As well as on your estate at death, inheritance tax may also be payable on gifts you make during your lifetime, especially if you die within seven years of making the gift.
Gifts fall into four basic categories:
Always tax-free irrespective of when you make them
Potentially tax-free (known as potentially exempt transfers or PETs)
Taxable, but no tax due at the time the gift is made
Taxable, and tax is paid at the time the gift is made
Who pays the inheritance tax bill?
Inheritance tax that becomes due on money or possessions passed on when you die is usually paid from your estate. Basically your estate is made up of everything you own, minus debts such as your mortgage and expenses such as funeral expenses.