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HMRC internal manual

Inheritance Tax Manual

Liabilities: law relating to debts: debts must be legally enforceable

The general position is that no deductions can be allowed for debts that are not legally enforceable or capable of being legally enforced. Statute-barred debts (IHTM28384) are an exception to this rule in that they may be allowed to the extent they are in fact paid.

Debts that may be disallowed because they are not legally enforceable include

  • debts paid under a moral obligation (these are likely to be debts that have either been incurred for no consideration or for past consideration)
  • liabilities that are unenforceable because there is no written evidence (for example, oral agreements for the sale of an interest in land)