Guidance

Trusts and Inheritance Tax

Inheritance Tax may be due on assets when they're transferred into or out of trust and on certain trusts at each 10-year anniversary.

Inheritance Tax and settled property

The act of putting an asset - such as money, land or buildings - into a trust is often known as ‘making a settlement’ or ‘settling property’.

For Inheritance Tax purposes, each asset has its own separate identity. This means, for example, that one asset within a trust may be for the trustees to use at their discretion and therefore treated like a discretionary trust. Another item within the same trust may be set aside for a disabled person and treated like a trust for a disabled person. In this case, there will be different Inheritance Tax rules for each asset.

Even though different assets may receive different tax treatment, it’s always the total value of all the assets in a trust that’s used to work out whether a trust exceeds the Inheritance Tax threshold and whether Inheritance Tax is due. There are different rules for different types of trust.

Inheritance Tax and excluded property

Some assets are classed as ‘excluded property’ and Inheritance Tax isn’t paid on them. However, the value of the assets may be brought in to calculate the rate of tax on certain exit charges and 10-year anniversary charges. Types of excluded property can include:

  • property situated outside the UK - that’s owned by trustees and settled by someone who was permanently living outside the UK at the time of making the settlement
  • government securities - known as FOTRA (free of tax to residents abroad)

The rules governing excluded property can be complicated.

Relevant property

Assets in a trust such as money, shares, houses or land are known as ‘relevant property’. Most property held in trusts counts as relevant property. Inheritance Tax may be due on the assets held within a trust when:

  • they’re transferred out of a trust (exit charges)
  • a 10-year anniversary occurs

The only exceptions to this rule are when the asset is:

  • in an interest in possession trust and it was put there before 22 March 2006
  • subject to a ‘transitional serial interest’ made between 22 March 2006 and 5 October 2008
  • put into an interest in possession trust by the terms of a will or the rules of intestacy
  • set aside for a disabled person
  • set aside for a bereaved minor
  • put into an age ‘18 to 25 trust’

Transfers into trust

A transfer of assets into a trust can include buildings, land or money and can be either of the following:

  • a gift made during a person’s life
  • a transfer or transaction that reduces the value of the settlor’s estate (for example an asset is sold to trustees at less than its market value) - the loss to the person’s estate is considered a gift or transfer

Work out if Inheritance Tax is due

For most types of trust Inheritance Tax is due when you make transfers that total more than the Inheritance Tax threshold of £325,000. You work this out by adding up the value of any transfers (based on the loss in value to the settlor’s estate) and any chargeable gifts made in the previous 7 years by the settlor. Inheritance Tax is due on everything above the threshold.

If the trustees pay, the rate of tax is 20%. If the settlor pays the Inheritance Tax instead of the trustee, this means there will be an increased loss from the settlor’s estate. The amount of tax due will therefore increase. These calculations are complex.

Death within 7 years of making a transfer

If you die within 7 years of making a transfer into a trust your estate will have to pay Inheritance Tax at the full amount of 40%. This is instead of the reduced amount of 20% which is payable when the payment is made during your lifetime.

In this case your personal representative - who manages your estate when you die - will have to pay a further 20% out of your estate based on the value of the original transfer.

If no Inheritance Tax was due when you made the transfer, the value of the transfer is added to your estate when working out whether any Inheritance Tax is due.

If you make a gift into any type of trust but continue to benefit from the gift - for example, you give away your house but continue to live in it - you will pay 20% on the transfer and the gift will still count as part of your estate. These are known as gifts ‘with reservation of benefit’. Find out more about passing on property.

This creates a situation where there are 2 possible Inheritance Tax charges if you die:

  • a charge when you transfer the gift into a trust
  • a charge to your estate when you die - because the asset is still considered part of your estate

To avoid double taxation, only the higher of these charges is applied - in other words you won’t ever pay more than 40% Inheritance Tax.

Gifts into a trust for someone who is disabled

You don’t have to pay Inheritance Tax immediately if you make a gift to a trust for someone who is disabled but Inheritance Tax may still be due when you die.

Find out more about how Inheritance Tax applies to trusts for someone who is disabled.

The Inheritance Tax exit charge

Inheritance Tax is charged up to a maximum of 6% on assets - such as money, land or buildings - transferred out of a trust. This is known as an ‘exit charge’ and it’s charged on all transfers of relevant property.

Transfers out of trust

A transfer out of trust can occur when:

  • the trust comes to an end
  • some of the assets within the trust are distributed to beneficiaries
  • a beneficiary becomes ‘absolutely entitled’ to enjoy an asset
  • an asset becomes part of a ‘special trust’ (for example a charitable trust or trust for a disabled person) and it ceases to be ‘relevant property’
  • the trustees enter into a non-commercial transaction that reduces the value of the trust fund

When there isn’t an Inheritance Tax exit charge

There are some occasions when there’s no Inheritance Tax exit charge - these apply even where the trust is a ‘relevant property’ trust. For instance, it isn’t charged:

  • on payments by trustees of costs or expenses incurred on assets held as relevant property
  • on some payments of capital to the beneficiary where Income Tax will be due
  • when the asset is transferred out of the trust within 3 months of setting up a trust, or within 3 months following a 10-year anniversary
  • when assets are ‘excluded property’ - some foreign property is excluded property

Calculating the Inheritance Tax exit charge

The calculations for the Inheritance Tax exit charge are complicated. You’ll need the following information before you can begin:

  • the value - before any reliefs - of all the assets transferred into the trust in question, valued at the dates of transfer
  • the value of all other transfers into other trusts made by the settlor on the same day as the trust in question was set up, valued at the date they were added
  • the value of all transfers chargeable to Inheritance Tax that the settlor made in the 7 years before the trust in question was set up, valued at the date they were made

Once you have this information there will be a different calculation depending on whether the:

  • transfer out of the trust occurs during the first 10 years of a trust’s life
  • transfer out occurs after the first 10 years
  • trust is an ‘18 to 25 trust’

The 10-year anniversary charge

As a trustee, you’ll have to pay a charge on every 10th anniversary of the date your trust was set up if your trust contains relevant property with a value above the Inheritance Tax threshold.

Work out the Inheritance Tax

Inheritance Tax is charged at each 10-year anniversary of the trust. It’s charged on the net value of any relevant property in the trust on the day before that anniversary. Net value is the value after deducting any debts and reliefs such as Business or Agricultural Relief. There are different rules if the trust was set up before 27 March 1974.

The calculation for the 10-yearly charge is complicated. Before you can begin, you’ll need the following information:

  • the value of the relevant property in the trust on the day before the 10-year anniversary
  • the value - at the date it entered the trust - of any trust property that has not been relevant property at any time while in this trust
  • the value of any property in any other trust (except wholly charitable trusts) that the settlor set up on the same date as this trust - use the value from the date it was set up
  • the value of any transfers subject to Inheritance Tax (whether into trusts or not) that the settlor made in the 7 years before this trust was set up - use the value at the date of transfer
  • the value of any transfers - at the date they were transferred - of relevant property out of the trust within the last 10 years
  • whether any of the relevant property was relevant property in the trust for less than the last 10 years

Dealing with a trust when someone dies

When someone dies, the job of managing their estate may involve dealing with trusts.

The person that’s died may have wanted their assets put into trust when they die, or part of their estate may have already been held in trust.

The executor or administrator of the person’s estate - known as the ‘personal representative’ - must find out the type of trust involved.

Inheritance Tax is due on everything above the Inheritance Tax threshold (£325,000 for the tax year 2018 to 2019). This can become more complicated when a trust is involved.

If a home is held in a trust or transferred to a trust when a person dies, the availability of the additional threshold will depend on the type of trust. This is because the type of trust will affect whether HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) treat:

  • the home as part of a person’s estate
  • that person’s direct descendants as inheriting the home

When a home is held in a trust or transferred to a trust, you should discuss how the additional threshold applies with a solicitor or other professional adviser who knows about trust law.

There are 3 main ways that the deceased’s personal representative may have to deal with a trust when working out whether Inheritance Tax is due.

1. When the deceased was the beneficiary of a trust

Some trusts are set up so that the beneficiary has ownership or a legal right to the income or assets in the trust. This will affect what’s included in the estate of the beneficiary when they die.

A bare trust is one where the beneficiary is entitled to both the income and the assets in the trust. Therefore, when they die, both income and assets are considered part of their estate. The personal representative needs to work out whether there’s any Inheritance Tax to pay and include the deceased’s interest in the bare trust, on form IHT400 Inheritance Tax Account.

An interest in possession trust is one where the beneficiary is entitled to only the income from a trust. When they die, there are certain circumstances where the value of this ‘interest in possession’ is calculated as part of their estate. These include when the trust was set up:

  • before 22 March 2006
  • after 22 March 2006 and was either an ‘immediate post death interest’, a ‘disabled person’s interest’ or a ‘transitional serial interest’ trust

If you’re the personal representative you’ll need to work out the value of an ‘interest in possession’ and complete questions 45 and 75 on form IHT400. You’ll need to liaise with the trustees to get this information. It’s the trustees’ duty to complete an IHT100 Inheritance Tax Account form. This form must also be completed when an interest in possession trust comes to an end.

A home is included in a person’s estate if it’s either held in:

  • a bare trust
  • an interest in possession trust so that they had the right to use or occupy the property

This can happen when a person is given a right to live in the family home following the death of their spouse. The home is held in trust for the lifetime of the beneficiary.

When the beneficiary dies, the estate will be eligible for the additional threshold as long as their direct descendants then inherit their home.

If the home is held in a discretionary trust, it wouldn’t normally be included in the beneficiary’s estate. When the beneficiary dies, their estate won’t be eligible for the additional threshold even if the home goes to the beneficiary’s direct descendants.

2. When the deceased transferred assets into a trust before they died

There may have been an Inheritance Tax charge of 20% when assets were transferred into a discretionary trust. If you’re the personal representative you must find out whether the deceased made any transfers into a trust in the 7 years before they died. If they did, and they paid Inheritance Tax at that time, the tax will be recalculated at 40% and a credit allowed for the tax paid when the trust was set up. The trustees will be liable to pay the extra tax. You must show this on form IHT400 at question 28.

Even if no Inheritance Tax is due on the transfer you may need to add its value to the deceased’s estate when you’re working out the value for Inheritance Tax purposes.

The additional threshold won’t apply to transfers of a home or any other assets to a discretionary trust before a person died. This applies even if the beneficiary is a direct descendant or if they’re entitled to the assets in the trust.

3. When a trust is set up by a will

Someone might ask in their will that some or all of their assets are placed in a trust. A trust set up under these circumstances is known as a ‘will trust’. The personal representative must then make sure that the trust is set up properly and all taxes are paid on assets going into it.

If a home is put into an interest in possession trust at the time someone dies, the additional threshold will available for their estate if the person who benefits from the trust is their direct descendant.

If the beneficiary isn’t a direct descendant, the estate won’t qualify for the additional threshold. In that case the unused additional threshold would be available to transfer to a surviving spouse or civil partner’s estate.

Example

Mr H died in the tax year 2017 to 2018. He left a house worth £350,000 to his wife in a trust, for her benefit whilst she’s alive.

His will directed that the house will go to their children when his wife dies.

The additional threshold for Mr H’s estate is nil because he left the house to his wife. The threshold available for transfer is 100% because none has been used.

When Mrs H dies in tax year 2020 to 2021, the house, now worth £400,000, passes to their children.

A claim is made to transfer any unused additional threshold from Mr H’s estate.

You work out the additional threshold available on Mrs H’s estate as follows:

Mrs H’s own additional threshold £175,000 (maximum additional threshold in tax year 2020 to 2021)
plus transferred additional threshold £175,000 (100% x £175,000)
maximum additional threshold for Mrs H’s estate £350,000

As the home passing to Mrs H’s children is worth more than the maximum available additional threshold of £350,000, Mrs H’s estate qualifies for the full £350,000 additional threshold.

If a home is put into a discretionary trust on death, the deceased’s estate won’t qualify for the additional threshold even if the beneficiaries are direct descendants of the deceased. Whether the beneficiaries are entitled to use the home is at the discretion of the trustees, so the home won’t form part of any beneficiary’s estate and they’ll not be treated as inheriting the home.

The estate may still qualify for the additional threshold if the trust meets certain conditions. For example, if the trust has been set up for:

  • a disabled beneficiary
  • orphaned children under 18
  • any children under 25

You should discuss how the additional threshold applies in these situations with a solicitor or other professional adviser.

Once it’s set up, it’s the trustees’ duty to make sure Inheritance Tax is paid on any further transfers into or out of the trust. They do this by completing the IHT100 Inheritance Tax Account form.

Telling HMRC about charges

If Inheritance Tax is due on assets in a trust you’ll need to fill in form IHT100 and the relevant event form - IHT100a to IHT100g.

Some trusts don’t have to send in an IHT100 form as long as they meet the rules for excepted transfers and settlements - usually trusts with a low value.

Doing the exit charge calculation yourself

If you want to do the calculations yourself you need to enter your figures into sections G and H on form IHT100.

You can download a worksheet and guidance notes to help you work out how much Inheritance Tax you’ll need to pay.

To calculate the charge, you’ll also need to use section B of Inheritance Tax worksheet IHT100WS. You can get further help filling in this section of the worksheet with part B of the guide IHT113.

If you’re calculating the 10-year anniversary charge and some of the assets in a trust haven’t been relevant property for all of the 10 years, the tax may be reduced by the number of quarters that the asset wasn’t relevant property. You can use the Inheritance Tax quarters calculator to help you work this out.

You can also use this example of how to calculate the 10-yearly charge to help you.

Getting HMRC to do the calculation for you

If you want HMRC to work out the charges for you, fill in form IHT100 leaving sections G and H blank. You’ll still need to complete the relevant event form. You need to return the form to HMRC in good time for the calculation to be worked out - otherwise you may be charged a penalty or interest on the Inheritance Tax due.

Deadlines, penalties and payments

If the chargeable event occurred on or after 6 April 2014, trustees must pay Inheritance Tax by the end of the sixth month after the event. The trustee must also report the event to HMRC, using form IHT 100, by the end of the sixth month after it happened.

If the chargeable event occurred before 6 April 2014, trustees must pay Inheritance Tax by the end of the sixth month after the event. The trustee must report the event to HMRC, using form IHT 100, within a year of the event happening.

HMRC will charge interest on payments received after the due date.

Published 8 November 2010
Last updated 6 April 2018 + show all updates
  1. Rates, dates, allowances and duties have been updated for the tax year 2018 to 2019.
  2. Updated to include guidance on how trusts affect the availability of the additional tax-free Inheritance Tax threshold (sometimes known as the residence nil rate band).
  3. Rates, allowances and duties have been updated for the tax year 2016 to 2017.
  4. First published.