When individuals contemplate the legacy they will leave behind for their loved ones, their focus may not immediately turn to the importance of effective asset management plans. However, the truth is that strategic and carefully crafted asset planning can be the most valuable gift one can bestow. Now, when it comes to leaving something behind for your loved ones, one topic that often elicits confusion and concern is the inheritance tax in Australia.
When they hear about inheritance tax, most people in the country are unaware of how it works, who is subject to it, and what the implications are for their loved ones. So, in today’s blog, we will discuss all you need to know about inheritance tax in Australia.
What is Inheritance Tax?
Inheritance tax is a tax levied on the assets inherited from a deceased person’s estate. It is based on the total value of the assets and can vary depending on the jurisdiction.
It is important to note here that there is no federal inheritance tax in Australia at the national level, unlike some other countries. In other words, it means that no specific tax is imposed on the assets inherited from a deceased person’s estate.
However, instead of inheritance tax in Australia, the government has other provisions regarding inheritance.
Capital Gains Tax (CGT) in Australia
Instead of the inheritance tax, in Australia, the primary tax that applies to the disposal of assets, including those inherited, is termed capital gains tax or CGT.
When someone passes away, their assets are typically transferred to their beneficiaries. Now, if these beneficiaries decide to sell any of the inherited assets, they might be subject to CGT, depending on the state they are in.
The CGT is calculated based on the difference between the acquisition cost and the selling price of the asset. However, you must remember that CGT is only triggered when you are selling assets. On the other hand, if you choose to hold onto the inherited asset, you will not be subjected to CGT until you finally decide to sell it.
Moreover, depending on certain circumstances, you might be exempted from paying the CGT liability, or it might get significantly reduced. One such instance is when the asset is the beneficiary’s main residence.
As mentioned earlier, there is no national inheritance tax in Australia. However, each state in the country has its own provisions and can impose duties on specific assets, say real estate. These state-based duties are commonly referred to as probate or estate duties.
Now, here it is crucial to understand that these estate duties are not applicable across all states and can vary significantly from one state to another.
Do All Wills Have to Go Through Probate?
Since there is no inheritance tax in Australia, probate is the legal process that validates a will and allows for the distribution of assets according to the deceased person’s wishes.
The next question that then arises is, “Do all wills have to go through probate?”
Generally speaking, the need for probate largely depends on the nature and value of the assets in question. However, this may vary from one case to another. So, it is best to always consult with a probate lawyer or a consultant.
Experts observe that here are a few key points to consider:
- Small Estates:In some cases, if the estate is small, probate may not be required. The threshold for determining a small estate can vary across jurisdictions but typically involves assets below a certain value.
- Jointly Owned Assets:Assets that are jointly owned, such as a joint bank account or a property held as joint tenants, may automatically pass to the surviving owner without probate.
- Assets Held in Trust:If the deceased person holds assets in a trust, those assets may pass directly to the beneficiaries named in the trust document, bypassing probate.
- Superannuation and Life Insurance:Superannuation funds and life insurance policies often have nominated beneficiaries. In these cases, the assets will be distributed directly to the beneficiaries without going through probate.
- Complex Estates:On the other hand, if the estate is complex, involving significant assets or disputes among beneficiaries, probate is more likely to be necessary. It ensures the proper administration and distribution of the assets, providing legal protection and clarity for all parties involved.
Navigating Probate and Inheritance Tax in Australia
Now, navigating the legal aspect of probate or inheritance tax in Australia can be confusing and overwhelming for someone unfamiliar with these concepts. However, with the right knowledge and appropriate guidance, you can ensure that the entire process is completed without hassle.
Remember, when it comes to any question about probate or inheritance tax in Australia, it is always advisable to seek professional advice from a qualified estate planning lawyer, tax advisor or probate consultant. This can help ensure that you comply with all relevant laws and regulations.
Are you looking for a professional with the expertise and knowledge to assist you correctly and answer any questions about probate or inheritance in Australia? Then, check out Probate Consultants.
They are one of the most renowned consultants in Australia, and their team can help you address all your concerns about inheritance taxes in Australia and probate. So, get in touch with their team via call or email, or drop by their offices for a quick chat.