You can give your home to your children - or someone else - at any time, even while you're still living in it. However, if your estate (including your home) is worth more than the Inheritance Tax threshold (£325,000 in 2013-14), there may be tax implications..
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For Inheritance Tax purposes, giving your home away is treated as making a gift. The rules about passing on property are complicated, so it's a good idea to seek legal advice.
There are two things about gifts to be aware of when passing on property:
You can make social visits and stay for short periods in the home you give away, but there are guidelines as to how frequent the visits can be without the home becoming a 'gift with reservation of benefit'.
You can continue to live in your home as your primary residence after giving it away, provided you pay a market rent to the new owner. Bear in mind that the new owner may have to pay Income Tax on the rent you pay them.
If you don't pay a market rent, the gift will be considered a 'gift with reservation of benefit' and the house may be subject to Inheritance Tax.
If you sell your home and give the money to your children, the gift won't be included in your estate for Inheritance Tax purposes, provided you live for seven years after you make the gift.
However, if you sell your home, give the money to your children and then move into their home - whether this is into a granny annexe they've made for you with the money or a room in a house they have purchased - there could be Income Tax implications. You may be classed as living in a pre-owned asset if you don't pay the market rent.
If both you and your children sell your homes, pool your money and buy a new home as joint owners to live in together, the part belonging to you will be considered part of your estate for Inheritance Tax purposes.
If you don't make equal contributions to the purchase, or don't occupy the same share of the property as you purchased, you may have to pay Income Tax as your share may be classed as a pre-owned asset. See the link below for more details about pre-owned assets.
If you give your home to your children and they move in with you, the gift will be treated as a 'gift with reservation of benefit' and the home will still be subject to Inheritance Tax.
However, if you give half of your home to your children, they move in with you and you share bills jointly, the half that you give them won't be treated as part of your estate for Inheritance Tax purposes as long as you live for seven years after making the gift.
As long as the home you give away is your main home, Capital Gains Tax won't be payable.
However, if you give away a second home, Capital Gains Tax may be payable if the property has increased in value between when you first owned it and when you gave it away.
The person you give the home to may also have to pay Capital Gains Tax if they make a profit when they sell, give away or exchange - 'dispose of' - the home, unless it's their main home.
There are different legal ways that you can own your home in England, Wales and Northern Ireland:
The law is different in Scotland.
If you and your spouse or civil partner own your home as joint tenants, the surviving spouse or civil partner will automatically inherit the home and there will be no Inheritance Tax to pay on the property when the first partner dies.
If you own a property as tenants in common with another person, you each own a portion of the property. You can pass your portion on to your children when you die. Dividing your property between your spouse and grown-up children in this way reduces the future size of the taxable estate when your surviving spouse dies.
It is a good idea to discuss the implications of changing the way you own your home(s) with a solicitor if your estate is worth more than the Inheritance Tax threshold. You’ll find some links below to professional organisations - though not all professionals are registered with them.