Cohabiting couples could face Inheritance Tax shock

Unmarried partners are facing an Inheritance Tax shock if they fail to prepare for the future.

According to a recent report by Solicitors for the Elderly (SFE), thousands of unmarried couples are potentially sitting on an Inheritance Tax bill worth thousands, or even hundreds of thousands, of pounds.

Under current laws, an individual can transfer all of their wealth to their partner tax-free, but only if they are married or in a civil partnership.

Any wealth transferred to a cohabiting partner, however, is taxed like normal, no matter how long they have been together.

Inheritance Tax is charged at 40 per cent on the value of your estate that is above the £325,000 threshold.

For example, if you and your cohabiting partner own a property worth £1 million and one of you dies, the surviving partner will inherit the first £325,000 tax-free, but the remaining £175,000 is taxable at a rate of 40 per cent – equal to £70,000 in tax.

The report comes after the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed that the proportion of families containing a cohabiting couple increased from 15.3 per cent to 18.4 per cent over the last decade – and is now the fastest growing family type in the UK.

Commenting on the report, SFE solicitor Elaine Roche said: “One of the things I’ve seen recently that people really don’t understand when it comes to Inheritance Tax is the matter of unmarried partners.

“If you are not married, there is no such things as a common law spouse, which many people just presume exists.

“If you live together and one of you dies and inherits the property, it ends up being taxable.”

At Moore Thompson we are able to explain, in no-nonsense terms, how tax issues might impact on your estate and help you sort out your financial affairs.

Our Partner, Heather Bright, who specialises in Inheritance Tax matters, will work on your behalf to ensure that your tax liability is minimised so that more of your hard-earned money stays with you, your business and, eventually, your loved ones.

Because we stay ahead of the curve, we will make sure that any changes to the tax regime are reflected in our advice to you.

To find out more, please get in touch with Heather.