The thought of dying is not the most cheerful subject,however, as the saying goes the two certainties in life are death and taxes and the thought of Inheritance tax should concentrate the mind.
The earlier you plan for Inheritance Tax the more likely you will save your children and beneficiaries tax on your estate after your death.
Without any planning, all of your estate over the current threshold of £325,000 will be taxed at 40%. Much of this tax can be avoided with a little careful planning.
Firstly it is worth remembering assets can normally be passed to a spouse or civil partner on death without a tax charge and without using up any of your £325,000 allowance. Also, if you do not use your full tax free allowance the unused percentage can be passed on to your surviving spouse or civil partner, increasing their allowance by that percentage at the time of their death.
For more information on Inheritance Tax thresholds, from the present day to 18th March 1986, please see the HMRC website.
Retirement might be the ideal time to consider gifts to your children and grandchildren.
First make sure you are comfortable you are not giving away money you might need yourself. Gifting could create Inheritance Tax (IHT) consequences. However, you are allowed to give away £3,000 IHT free each year.
Gifts in excess of £3,000 are normally chargeable to IHT unless you survive seven full years. It therefore makes sense to make gifts of this nature earlier in retirement rather than later.
As well as the £3,000 limit mentioned above you can also make IHT free gifts from surplus income (known as gifts out of normal expenditure), i.e. the gift does not affect your usual standard of living. Surplus income could be given outright to help the family now or invested for your children or grandchildren perhaps in a trust to give you control over the timing of the eventual gifting.
You could start a pension for members of your family. They will enjoy all the normal tax benefits of pensions and you could lay firm foundations for them for their retirement.
Most gifts to charities are also exempt from IHT.
You should take advice from a competent Chartered Financial Planner.