Giving a gift is a common occurrence that most of us carry out several times a year, such as giving birthday and Christmas presents to friends or family members. In the vast majority of cases these gifts will be given without any thought to possibility legalities and will be received with gratitude. However, there are some situations where the giving of a gift, particularly a large sum of money, can result in a dispute between the donor and receiver.
One such situation can arise where a sum of money changes hands but the parties don’t agree about the nature of this exchange – the receiver believes it to be a gift but the donor claims it was a loan and therefore needs to be repaid at some point.
Disputes of this nature can be complex and if it ends up in court then the judge will take into account a number of factors, including the nature of the relationship between the parties and the circumstances of the money transfer.
For the avoidance of doubt and the protection of both parties, particularly with larger sums, you should always keep a paper trail of these transactions, including a signed agreement specifying whether the money has been transferred as a gift or loan, any repayment terms (where applicable) and also signed confirmation that the money has been received.
Gifting can also potentially have inheritance tax (IHT) implications. If you die within seven years of making a gift and your estate is liable for IHT, then tax of 40% may be due on the value of this gift and that tax is technically due by the recipient of the gift. Gifts made three to seven years before your death may be taxed at a reduced rate if they are of sufficient amount(s) to exceed the standard IHT allowance. Any gifts given seven or more years before your death should not have IHT implications.
However, you can give away gifts of up to £3,000 each tax year without accruing IHT liability. There are also additional exemptions available, for example for wedding presents or helping with a close relative’s living costs or gifts to a spouse, civil partner or charity.
Gifting can be surprisingly complex and you should always take legal advice if you are at all unsure of the legal or tax implications of a planned gift.
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