Call Premier Solicitors01234 358 080
law firm image

What is the net qualifying value of an estate?

Understanding the key aspects of the estate administration process and probate in general, especially concerning the complexities surrounding Inheritance Tax (IHT) reporting requirements, is no small feat. With the introduction of pivotal amendments by the HM Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS), there's a shift towards simplification, particularly for "excepted estates," which are not liable for IHT. These changes, embodied in The Inheritance Tax (Delivery of Accounts) (Excepted Estates) (Amendment) Regulations 2021, are set to streamline the probate application process by easing the instances in which a complete IHT form is required.

What is an Excepted Estate?

An excepted estate is essentially an estate that meets certain criteria making it exempt from Inheritance Tax (IHT) in the United Kingdom. These estates are considered 'excepted' because they fall under thresholds or conditions where IHT does not apply.

The classification simplifies the probate process, as it often requires less paperwork and fewer formalities to prove that the estate is not liable for IHT. Understanding whether an estate qualifies as excepted is vital for executors and administrators, as it directly impacts the required steps for legal and tax purposes during the estate administration process.

Introduction to Excepted Estates

An 'excepted estate' stands out because it is not subject to Inheritance Tax, based on specific qualifying criteria. Recent amendments are designed to lessen the administrative load on executors and administrators by reducing the need for comprehensive IHT form submissions for obtaining a Grant of Representation (either Grant of Probate or Grant of Letters of Administration). This effort to streamline processes is crucial for efficient estate management.

Recent Amendments and Their Impact

With the onset of the new year 2022, the HMCTS introduced amendments with significant implications. These include an increase in the asset limit in a single Trust from £150,000 to £250,000 and a rise in the threshold for chargeable transfers made before death. Such adjustments suggest that estates can now be classified as excepted under these new thresholds, consequently reducing reporting requirements following the changes. Moreover, the gross value limit for an estate to be considered as an exempt excepted estate has been elevated from £1 million to £3 million.

Notably, these changes do not affect estates where the deceased was not domiciled in the UK, except when gifts exceed £3k per year, potentially requiring an IHT400 form. Additionally, estates that have utilised some of the Nil Rate Band (NRB) from a previous death can now qualify as an excepted estate under specific conditions, marking a significant shift in how estates are assessed and processed.

Understanding the Net Qualifying Value

Determining various values is crucial in the probate process, including the net and gross values for both IHT and probate purposes. The net value for IHT purposes involves the total assets minus liabilities, highlighting that joint assets must be reported for IHT purposes despite not requiring probate.

Similarly, the gross value for IHT purposes encompasses all assets without deducting liabilities. The concept of the net qualifying value becomes pivotal here, as it involves a comprehensive assessment of all assets and liabilities, adjusted for any exemptions such as assets left to a spouse, civil partner, or charity. This value is instrumental in establishing the estate's IHT position. Furthermore, the distinctions between net and gross values for probate purposes are critical for thoroughly understanding and efficiently handling the estate administration process.

Streamlining the Probate Application Process

The introduction of these regulations marks a significant stride towards simplifying estate administration, reducing the paperwork burden on executors and administrators, and making the probate process more accessible for non-taxable estates. By providing clarity and raising thresholds for low-value and exempt excepted estates, the HMCTS has effectively reduced the complexity and administrative burden associated with estate administration.

In light of the amendments introduced by HMCTS and the adjustments to the IHT reporting requirements, it's essential to address a crucial point regarding the expectations versus the reality of the impact of these changes. Despite the optimistic outlook that these amendments would streamline the probate application process, particularly for excepted estates, it's important to understand the current operational challenges faced by both the HM Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS) and HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).

The anticipation was that the changes would significantly reduce the administrative aspect, thereby expediting the process of obtaining a Grant of Probate (or Letters of Administration). However, the reality tells a different story. As it stands, the process of obtaining Grants still encompasses a timeline of approximately 16-20 weeks, indicating no substantial improvement in efficiency. This situation persists despite the revised thresholds and simplified criteria intended to make estates more readily classified as excepted. Hence, while the legislative intent was aimed at creating a more streamlined and less cumbersome process, the practical outcomes have yet to align with these goals.


The amendments to the IHT reporting requirements for excepted estates herald a new era in estate administration, simplifying processes and reducing the administrative burden. Understanding the concept of an excepted estate and the net qualifying value of an estate allows executors and administrators to navigate these changes more efficiently, ensuring a smoother and more effective estate administration process.

Do you need advice or help with IHT and the estate administration process?

Premier Solicitors is a leading UK law firm staffed by lawyers devoted to providing a professional and affordable legal service on a comprehensive range of legal services such as Probate and Estate Administration. For more information, please call us on 01234 358 080 or visit our contact page to send an enquiry form.

Sapphire Hudson - Paralegal, Premier Solicitors

Expert Service Competitively Priced