Changes to Inheritance Tax (IHT) Forms during Covid-19 | Wills and estates

Emergency COVID-19 measures that mean there is no longer a need for handwritten signatures on inheritance tax (IHT) forms have been welcomed by Thursfields Solicitors.

The comments from the leading Midlands law firm comes as HMRC announced it was temporarily accepting printed signatures on IHT returns instead of personal representatives’ physical signatures when there is a professional agent acting.

Laura Banks, a senior associate solicitor in the Wills & Estates department at Thursfields, said: “We welcome this move by the HMRC to allow IHT forms that have been submitted by professional advisers not to need handwritten signatures during the COVID-19 lockdown.

“Because of the self-isolation and social distancing measures in place, this temporary move will allow us to get IHT forms approved by email rather than the delays that would have been involved if we had to send out the originals and await them to be returned signed before filing.”

Ms Banks is a fully qualified member of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) and sits on both the STEP England and Wales Regional Committee and the STEP Worldwide Council.

She said: “These are sensible measures that also shows the implicit trust that HMRC has in professional agents handling sensitive IHT matters.”

HMRC has also announced the scrapping of cheques for the payment and repayment of IHT as a result of the coronavirus crisis.

In future, the tax must be paid by any of the other methods specified in its guidance, and repayments will be made direct to a named bank account using the faster payments (FPI) system.

This change appears to be permanent, rather than just for the duration of the crisis.

Ms Banks added: “The scrapping of cheques may have been prompted by COVID-19, but it is also a reflection of the modern world when there are so many more secure ways of transferring funds.”

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