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budget 2011: A surprise inheritance tax change – but a word of warning

31 March 2011

The Government has announced that a reduced rate of inheritance tax will apply where 10% or more of a deceased’s net estate (after deducting inheritance exemptions, reliefs and the nil rate band) is left to charity. In those cases, the current 40% rate will be reduced to 36%. If enacted, this will apply to deaths on or after 6 April 2012.

Whilst this measure is otherwise commendable, it is important to sound a cautionary note as regards how this may be incorporated into a Will. The temptation will be to leave a sufficient share of residue to charity in order to secure the reduced rate. However, this conflicts with the usual advice that it is better not to make a charity a residuary beneficiary (as this can lead to difficulties, and sometimes even litigation). Testators will need to be mindful of this when making their Wills if they wish to secure the reduced rate and yet not create difficulties for their families after their deaths.

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