The Nil Rate Band Trust

Once the preserve of the very rich, with rising house prices, more and more of us find our estates are liable for large sums of IHT leaving our families with significantly reduced funds.  However, with careful planning, the amount payable can be mitigated.

This Will Trust is designed for couples to ensure that they both make use of their individual inheritance tax (IHT) allowances when then die.  Their allowance, or Nil-Rate Band (NRB), is a threshold at which the first £325,000 (2024/25) is tax-free and where the excess is taxed at 40%.

Many couples draw up simple Wills whereby on the death of the first partner the whole of the estate passes to the survivor.  When the surviving partner dies they have only one NRB to offset against the value of the estate and this creates an IHT liability.

By equalising your estate and drafting Wills that incorporate the Nil Rate Band Trust you and your partner can make use of both Nil-Rate Bands, creating a significant IHT saving.

Benefits of the Trust

  • Making use of both Nil-Rate Bands creates a potential IHT saving of £130,000 (2024/25)
  • If your estate value is above £2M it may be beneficial to include a Nil Rate Band Trust in your Wills to reduce the estate value of 2nd death to enable your executors to claim the Residential Nil Rate Band in order to reduce the IHT bill on your estate.
  • Whilst you are both still alive your affairs are exactly as they are today; the trust is not established until first death so no assets are transferred to the trust until then so you can both fully benefit from all property, assets and investments in your estate
  • During their lifetime, the surviving partner can continue to benefit from the trust assets and the deceased partner’s estate.

How does it work?

How it works: The Nil Rate Band Trust

Case Study

Mr Smith and Ms Jones are unmarried and have made no plans for inheritance tax.  They have a joint property worth £430,000 with no mortgage and joint investments worth £145,000.  In their Wills, they have left everything to each other and then their 3 children.  Their total assets are currently below their two Nil-Rate Bands but their children will miss out on an inheritance of £100,000 as this is the IHT bill on 2nd death.

The Solution

They re-draft their Wills to include the Nil Rate Band Will Trust and also equalise their estate by severing the tenancy on their property to tenants-in-common and by re-distributing their investments so that they are solely held.

The Result

They are now making use of both Nil-Rate Bands so no IHT at all is payable on second death.  They also retain control of their assets and are able to take benefits from them.

Important Considerations

The estate must be equalised so that both partners have sufficient assets in their own name.  This often involves changing the tenancy on the main property (and perhaps additional properties) to tenants-in-common.

Here is a PDF with a more detailed explanation of the trust and a case study.

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