In the UK, property ownership is a significant component of many individuals’ portfolios, so it is essential to have a well-thought-out strategy in place to ensure a smooth transition while minimising the potential tax burden.  

Inheritance Tax (IHT) is a key consideration in this process, and not planning ahead can result in significant financial implications for your beneficiaries.  

In this article, we will explain how inheritance tax is applied. We will then consider planning for UK tax residents, particularly those with a property portfolio. We will also explore various strategies, considerations, and practical examples to help you make informed decisions that align with your goals and protect your legacy.  

We have used the term “marriage” but please also assume that this applies to civil partnerships too.  


Understanding Inheritance Tax in the UK  

 Inheritance Tax (IHT) is a tax levied on the estate of a deceased person in the UK. In summary: 

  • We each have a nil rate band of £325,000. Assets within this suffer 0% inheritance tax. This band is reduced by gifts within seven years of death.  
  • We may also have a residential nil rate band of £175,000, assuming we leave our home to our children and the value of your estate does not exceed £2,350,000. 
  • The surviving spouse can inherit these allowances and use their own upon their death.  
  • So, for married couples, the IHT liability occurs upon second death. 
  • The rate of Inheritance tax is 40% above available allowances. 
  • Certain business and agricultural assets suffer 0% inheritance tax but are included in the total estate value when assessing eligibility for the residential nil rate band. 

Succession planning for property can be challenging because, by its very nature, property is illiquid and tends to have significant capital gains.   


The Importance of Succession Planning    

Succession planning is the process of developing a strategy to transfer your assets, including your property portfolio, to your chosen beneficiaries in an efficient and tax-effective manner.   

By proactively planning for the future, you can minimise the potential tax burden, ensure your wishes are carried out, and provide peace of mind for you and your loved ones.  

Here are some key reasons why succession planning is crucial for UK tax residents with a property portfolio:  

  1. Minimising Inheritance Tax: Proper succession planning can help you take advantage of various legal strategies and exemptions to reduce or potentially eliminate the Inheritance Tax liability on your estate. 
  2. Protecting Your Legacy: Careful planning ensures that your property portfolio and other assets are distributed according to your wishes, allowing you to leave a lasting legacy for your loved ones. 
  3. Avoiding Family Disputes: A well-structured succession plan can help prevent potential conflicts or disputes among beneficiaries by clearly outlining your intentions and ensuring a fair distribution of assets.  
  4. Continuity of Property Management: If your property portfolio is a significant part of your estate, succession planning can facilitate a smooth transition of ownership and management, minimising disruptions for tenants or other stakeholders.  

Strategies for Succession Planning  

There are various strategies and tools available for effective succession planning when it comes to your property portfolio. Here are some common approaches to consider:  


Gifting Properties 

One strategy to reduce the potential Inheritance Tax liability is to gift your properties to your intended beneficiaries during your lifetime. 

However, this counts as a disposal for capital gains tax and a gift for Inheritance tax. The capital gains tax has to be paid within 60 days for property.  

The value of the gift reduces the donor’s nil rate band for a full seven years. However, if you live for seven years, then the nil rate band is increased back to £325,000.  

For gifts where property exceeds the donor’s £325,000 then this would result in an inheritance tax liability, upon death, payable by the person who received the gift. 

Insurance can be utilised to cover this liability should that be a concern.  



Setting up a trust is an effective way to manage your property portfolio after gifting, guard against death, divorce and bankruptcy and thus ensure that assets stay within your bloodline.  

Gifting into trust can also mitigate Inheritance Tax liabilities.  

There are different types of trusts to consider, each with its own rules and implications.  


  1. Bare Trusts: In a bare trust, the beneficiary has an immediate and absolute right to the assets held in the trust. This type of trust can be useful for transferring assets to minors or young adults, as the assets are held in trust until they reach age 18. 
  2. Life Interest Trusts: Also known as Interest in Possession Trusts, these trusts allow you to transfer assets into the trust and give the “life interest” the lifetime right to income/reside in the property. Upon their death, the assets then are passed onto the beneficiaries.  
  3. Discretionary Trusts: With a discretionary trust, the trustees have complete discretion over how and when to distribute the assets to the beneficiaries. This type of trust can provide flexibility and control over the distribution of your assets, but it can have tax implications.  

It’s essential to seek professional advice from a qualified financial advisor or solicitor when considering setting up a trust, as the rules and tax implications can be complex.  

Capital gains tax can be avoided by utilising “holdover relief”. The property will then retain its current cost price.  

However, gifting in excess of £325,000 attracts a lifetime IHT liability of 20% of the value above £325,000. 


Owning Property with your Pension

Your pension can invest into commercial (not residential) property. It can even utilise gearing by taking out a mortgage. There is no capital gains tax on a sale and no income tax on rental profits.  

Liquidity is a concern, given that withdrawals will have to be supported by rental income. However, the new pension rules support the use of pensions as family trust vehicles, to pass property down the generations.  

This is a complex area of financial advice.  


Owning Property via a Company 

This is a complex area of advice. In summary, a company can give control whilst providing options around withdrawals of profits.  

However, a company adds an extra layer of cost, complexity, professional fees and tax.  


Wills and Estate Planning 

Having a well-drafted will is a fundamental component of succession planning. A properly structured will can ensure that your property portfolio and other assets are distributed according to your wishes, minimizing potential disputes and ensuring a smooth transition.  

In addition to a will, it’s also important to consider other estate planning tools, such as Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs). LPAs allow you to appoint someone to manage your affairs, including your property portfolio, in the event that you become incapacitated or unable to make decisions for yourself.  

Lastly, should you own the property personally, then the capital gain is neutralised upon death. This is achieved by the cost price becoming the value at date of death. However, gains can occur after death. 

There is therefore an argument for a couple to decide to own property solely and not jointly. This will have repercussions in terms of who receives, and is taxed upon, the income.  


Seeking Professional Advice  

Succession planning for a property portfolio can be complex, with various legal and tax implications to consider. This communication is for informational purposes only and does not constitute financial, investment, or legal advice. It is not intended to be relied upon as a recommendation or endorsement of any specific financial product or service.  

Before making any financial decisions, it is recommended that you seek professional advice from qualified professionals, such as financial advisors, solicitors, and tax experts. These professionals can provide tailored guidance based on your specific circumstances, ensuring that your succession plan is legally compliant and optimized for tax efficiency. For instance, we have not covered company ownership nor SDLT.  

By working with professionals, you can navigate the intricacies of Inheritance Tax, explore various strategies, and develop a comprehensive plan that aligns with your goals and protects your legacy.  


Succession planning is crucial for UK tax residents with a property portfolio, as it enables a smooth and tax-efficient transition of assets to your loved ones. By taking proactive steps and seeking professional advice, you can manage the potential Inheritance Tax burden, ensure your wishes are carried out, and provide peace of mind for you and your beneficiaries.  

Whether you choose to gift properties, establish trusts, create a comprehensive estate plan through a well-drafted will, or a combination thereof, the key is to start planning early and regularly review your strategy to align with any changes in your circumstances or the relevant tax laws.  

Your property portfolio represents a significant part of your wealth and legacy. Investing time and resources into succession planning today can provide a lasting impact on the financial well-being of your loved ones for generations to come. Speak to our team at Fiducia Wealth Management. Our team of Chartered Financial Planners can help you plan the succession of your wealth in a tax efficient way.