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HMRC internal manual

Inheritance Tax Manual

Claims and time limits: time limits

The claim to transfer unused nil rate band must be made by personal representatives within the ‘permitted period’. The period is 24 months after the end of the month in which the second deceased died, or, (if it ends later) the period of 3 months beginning with the date on which the personal representatives first acted as such - IHT84/S8B(3)(a).

Under IHTA84/S8B(3)(b), an officer of Revenue & Customs has the discretion to extend that period where circumstances are appropriate. (IHTM43009).


If the surviving spouse or civil partner died on 10 October 2014, the claim form would need to be received by 31 October 2016.

If no claim is made by the personal representatives, any other person liable for tax may make a claim within such later period as an officer of Revenue & Customs may allow, IHTA84/S8B(1)(b), see (IHTM43008). 

The phrase ‘first acted as such’ in IHTA84/S8B(3)(a) follows the general law about acts done by executors and administrators before the grant. An administrator can do nothing until letters of administration are granted to them but an executor may undertake certain acts before the grant. Where an executor undertakes acts which show an intention to take on the office of executor and which would prevent them from renouncing probate, that is the point when they have ‘first acted’ as an executor. For example

  • making an express claim to act as an executor, by bringing or defending a claim in that capacity,
  • taking, using or disposing of goods; usually by carrying on the deceased’s business or trade,
  • demanding, receiving or releasing debts due to the deceased.

This statutory extension to the period in which a claim may be made is most likely to be relevant where there is a dispute which must be settled before the identity of the personal representatives will be known. In such cases, you should treat the three month period as beginning when the Court Order identifying the executors is made.

Once a claim has been submitted it can be withdrawn no later than one month after the end of the permitted periods mentioned above, IHTA/S8B(4). If a claim by the personal representatives is withdrawn, any other person who is liable for tax as a result of the death can make a claim (IHTM43008).