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Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Help with the Inheritance Tax 'Return of Estate Information' forms

You complete a Return of Estate Information form as part of the probate (or confirmation) process to show that an estate is an 'excepted estate'. This means it doesn't require a full Inheritance Tax account. There are several versions of the form. This guide answers common questions about forms IHT205 and C5.

About the Return of Estate Information form

The Return of Estate Information form shows HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) that the estate you are dealing with is an excepted estate. If it isn’t, the form will tell you to fill in a full Inheritance Tax account instead - form IHT400.

When to use the form - excepted estates

Usually, if an estate has no Inheritance Tax to pay, it will be an excepted estate. However, this is not always the case.

An estate is generally an excepted estate if one of the following applies:

  • it's a low value estate - valued at under the Inheritance Tax threshold (£325,000 in 2012-13 tax year)
  • it's an exempt estate - the deceased has left everything (or everything over and above the Inheritance Tax threshold) to a spouse or civil partner living in the UK or to a 'qualifying' charity (and the estate is valued at under £1 million)
  • 100 per cent of the unused Inheritance Tax threshold from a late spouse or civil partner can be transferred to the deceased and the estate is valued at less than twice the Inheritance Tax threshold (£650,000 in 2012-13 tax year)
  • the deceased person was a ‘foreign domiciliary’ - they lived permanently abroad and died abroad and the value of their UK assets is under £150,000

However, there are other rules you must consider as well, see the section below about when not to use the form.

When not to use the form

There are some rules which mean that although an estate doesn't owe Inheritance Tax it can't be an excepted estate. In these cases you should complete a full Inheritance Tax account form IHT400.

What version of the form to use

There are several types and versions of the Return of Estate Information form. The one to use mostly depends on where the deceased lived and the date of death.

The most commonly used forms are:

  • IHT205 - if the deceased lived in England, Wales or Northern Ireland
  • C5 - if the deceased lived in Scotland
  • IHT207 - if the deceased lived abroad with assets of up to £150,000 in England, Wales or Northern Ireland
  • C5(OUK) - if the deceased lived abroad with assets of up to £150,000 in Scotland
  • C5(SE) - if the deceased had a small estate in Scotland, valued at under £30,000

It's also vital you use the right version of the form for the deceased’s date of death.

Who signs the form and where do you send it?

All executors or personal representatives sign the Return of Estate Information form, as they'll eventually be named on the grant of probate (or confirmation in Scotland).

If you're in England or Wales, you should send the IHT205 form to your nearest Probate Registry. You'll also need to include the PA1 Probate Application form, the original will, the death certificate and the probate fee.

The process is slightly different in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Common questions about forms IHT205 and C5

The main purpose of the Return of Estate Information form is to confirm that the estate is an excepted estate.

The majority of people will have an excepted estate which means you'll need to complete the Return of Estate Information form IHT205 (or C5 for Scotland). You’ll also answer ‘no’ to most of the questions on the form, or the questions will not be relevant to the deceased person.

Some questions and terminology on the IHT205 and C5 forms may need explaining to non-experts. Follow the links below for summaries of the most commonly asked questions on gifts, trusts, insurance policies, pensions, exemptions and assets.

Full guidance notes for the IHT205 and C5 forms are also available to download from the links below.

More help?

It may be helpful to discuss the completion of forms with a solicitor. You’ll find some links below to professional organisations - though not all professionals are registered with them.

Provided by HM Revenue and Customs

Additional links

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