An article in the mainstream press has noted that HM Revenue & Customs has taken an additional £274m in inheritance tax (IHT) from its investigations into 5,638 estate administrations in the 2019/20 year. This is the highest in over 4 years and equates to an additional £48,500 of IHT for each estate which has been investigated.

Experts have said that this is "due to the complexities of the IHT system" but probate professionals and commentators have instead pointed towards the recent uptake in probate applications submitted by personal rather than professional applicants. It appears that the Probate Registry’s new application procedures, which are now available online, have made it increasingly accessible for lay executors to attempt to file IHT returns and apply for probate themselves, rather than instruct an experienced professional, such as a solicitor, to undertake this work for them.

This dramatic rise in investigations undertaken by HM Revenue & Customs and the substantial additional IHT claimed highlights the importance of instructing experienced professionals to undertake this work now, more than ever. Presenting information in the right way to HMRC limits the risk of enquiries and investigations, while it is clear that filing IHT accounts without professional assistance can be a false economy.

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