Because transfers of assets between spouses or civil partners normally have no tax consequences for IHT purposes, it is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that there is nothing which needs to be done when making such transfers or when passing over the unused proportion of the IHT ‘tax free’ allowance in the event of one partner’s death. In fact, specific documents are required when the estate of the surviving partner is administered.
HM Revenue and Customs’ guidance on the procedure for claiming the balance of the IHT nil rate band on the death of the second spouse or civil partner shows that the retention of these documents is important.
The personal representatives of the deceased will be required to supply the claim accompanied by the following documents relating to his or her late spouse or civil partner:
the death certificate;
the marriage or civil partnership certificate;
a copy of the grant of representation (confirmation, where the deceased died in Scotland);
the will (if any); and
any deed of variation.
It is widely thought that the ‘excess’ of unused transfers (i.e. the difference between the transfers made and the nil rate band at the date of death) simply passes across to a surviving spouse or civil partner, but this is not the case. The way the transfer works is more complex.
It is recommended that the required documents are assembled and stored in a safe place, together with your will.