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Death duty

In the United Kingdom, Death Duty refers to the taxes payable on the estate of a person who has died. The tax was first introduced on estates in England and Wales over a certain value from 1796, then called legacy, succession and estate duties. The value changed over time and the scope of estate duty was extended. By 1857 estates worth over £20 were taxable but duty was rarely collected on estates valued under £1500.

Estate duty was replaced in 1975 by Capital Transfer Tax, which was replaced by Inheritance Tax (IHT) in 1986. Inheritance Tax is a significant revenue generator for the UK government, around £2.4bn in 2001. The current rate is 40% on the value of all the estate over £250,000. On death there is a minimum of 12 months of probate, during which solicitors assess the value of the estate and consider challenges. If there is insufficient cash to pay the tax and the solicitors' bill, then assets must be sold.

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