Currently, Inheritance tax is paid if a person’s estate (their property, money and possessions) is over £325,000. This is known as the inheritance tax threshold. Any assets that are above this amount incur an Inheritance Tax charge of 40%. Married couples or civil partners are able to double their allowance up to £650,000 before tax is payable.
However, from April 2017, an additional “family home allowance” is being introduced for people owning a home. It will eventually be worth an extra £175,000 per person – meaning the tax free band can be up to £1m for couples. It can even be transferred between married couples and civil partners if one dies before it is introduced in 2017.
The existing £325,000 nil rate band is frozen at its current level until 2021.
In order to qualify for the family home allowance, the property must have been the main family home at some point and be left to one or more direct descendants, including children, step children, adopted children, foster children and even grandchildren. However, it will not include other family members such as nieces and nephews.
If there is more than one property in the estate, only one will qualify for the new allowance. If a home is sold or downsized any time from 8th July 2015, the family home allowance will still be allowable as long as assets of an equivalent value are passed to the descendants instead.
For estates with a net value of more than £2m, the family home nil rate band is withdrawn at £1 for every £2 over the £2m threshold.
Please note: This article is a commentary on general principles and should not be interpreted as advice for your specific situation.