Doddy had the last laugh – but you might not be so lucky

Jan 28, 2019

Whitley Stimpson are urging people not to become complacent over Inheritance Tax (IHT) planning, as legal experts predict the number of deathbed weddings will soar this year.

An increasing number of co-habiting couples will attempt to safeguard their finances by following the example of the late comedian Sir Ken Dodd. Dodd passed away last year, but married his partner of 40 years two days before his death.

The comedian, who died in March 2018 aged 90, tied the knot with his long-term partner Anne Jones to prevent her having to pay IHT of more than £2million on his £7.2million fortune – a 40 per cent liability on the vast majority of his estate. Current rules state that on the death of a partner, unmarried couples in England and Wales don’t have automatic rights to pensions, are liable for IHT and are also excluded from claiming some benefits.

Experts at Whitley Stimpson, one of the largest independent accountancy practices in the area, with offices in Banbury, Bicester, High Wycombe and Witney, are keen to offer advice and guidance that assists individuals in planning appropriately to minimise IHT.

Ian Parker, Manager at Whitley Stimpson in Banbury, said: “With headlines highlighting that more people are choosing to tie the knot at the last minute to avoid leaving the surviving partner in the financial lurch, it could be tempting for people to think that tax planning is no longer necessary. It’s true; there are tremendous differences between the ways that a partner and a spouse are treated when it comes to IHT. Assets can be passed between spouses free of tax, which can make an enormous difference. However please remember that if you do get married this will invalidate any previous Will.  You will therefore need to revisit your Will once you’ve tied the knot in order to make sure that your wishes are fulfilled.

”Despite the headlines, it is important that people do not become complacent about IHT planning, as the rules are complex.  Moreover, it’s a sad fact of life that death in old age can occur suddenly, thereby preventing many people from having enough forewarning to arrange nuptials. With proper planning we can ensure that the tax clients will pay is minimised.”

Whitley Stimpson has a team of specialists who advise on all tax matters including Inheritance Tax for both businesses and individuals. For advice, please contact tax expert Ian Parker on 01295 270200 or