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Over half of people unaware of IHT cost

Over half of people who intend to leave money to relatives and friends have done no res-earch into the costs of inheritance tax, according to a survey by Brewin Dolphin.

The survey shows that 53 per cent have done no research. Seventeen per cent of people anticipate getting an inheritance but one-fifth are not aware that part of an inheritance is liable to 40 per cent tax.

Scotland is the worst at IHT planning, with 62 per cent not taking any preventive action and 60 per cent unaware of the tax threshold. Among people in Greater London, Wales and the West, only 8 per cent are una-ware of the threshold.

Brewin Dolphin says the Government, which last year got 2.9bn through IHT, is capitalising on a lack of public awareness of the tax.

Marketing director Charlotte Black says it is no longer only the rich who are hit by IHT. She says 2.4 million homes across the UK are valued above the 263,000 IHT threshold before taking other assets into account.

She says: “If the Government had increased the IHT-free threshold in line with house price increases since 1997, it would now be around 450,000. This would ease the financial burden faced by bereaved families. With a general election this year, all parties should note that IHT is a major issue. It is an unpalatable tax that should be removed.

“Nevertheless, much can be done to mitigate the cost of inheritance tax, such as family trusts and transferring assets within a family. The minimum that everyone should do is to make a will.”

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