It is common for unmarried couples to jointly own a property. Cohabiting couples with assets in excess of £650,000 may be subject to inheritance tax at 40% in the event of one of them passing away. This is as a result of each individual may have up to £325,000 worth of assets that can be transferred free of inheritance tax on their death to non-spouses - this is called the nil rate band.
The above is not the case for married couples, as assets left to a spouse is exempt from inheritance tax and in addition the unused element of the nil rate band of £325,000 is transferred to the surviving spouse meaning the amount of £650,000 worth of the surviving partner’s death estate may not be liable to inheritance tax.
Capital Gains Tax
A key point is that married couples can transfer assets between each other without being subject to capital gains tax. As a result of this, married couples can transfer assets to each other freely to ensure that the capital gains annual exemption of £10,900 is fully utilised on the subsequent sale, for example on a rental property that is owned by one of the married couple prior to a sale of this property, half of the ownership can be transferred to the their spouse meaning upon sale of the property the married couple can fully utilise the capital gains exemption of £21,800.
Other areas to consider
Married couples allowance applies when one of the married couple was 65 before 6 April 2000 when the universal married couples allowance was withdrawn.
Licenced Accountant in Brighton