Did Ken Dodd mitigate tax liability by marrying partner?

It has been suggested that Ken Dodd’s marriage to his long term partner, two days before the enduring entertainer passed away, was hurriedly finalised to ensure she didn’t get hit with an Inheritance Tax (IHT) bill of up to £2 million.

The 90-year-old comedian, famous for his tickling stick, Diddy-men and previous tax issues, died on Sunday, leaving a legacy thought to be worth around £7.2 million. With the couple never having had children, it is expected that the fortune will pass to Dodd’s wife, Anne.

The pair married on 9 March, two days before Dodd succumbed to a chest infection. The move ensured that Anne, who had been his partner for 40 years, would not be liable for IHT.

Inheritance Tax is paid on any estate (including property) worth £325,000 or more. It must be paid by the beneficiary of the Will, unless they are a spouse, a civil partner or a registered charity.

It is this condition that has led to the suggestion that IHT was behind the pair’s decision to marry just prior to the entertainer’s death.

An expert, discussing tax liabilities, said: “For unmarried couples, when one dies and leaves everything to the other, everything aside from these allowances may be taxed at 40 per cent.

“For married couples leaving everything to the surviving spouse, there will be no Inheritance Tax to pay on the first death, no matter how big the estate is.

“What’s more, when couples leave assets to one another, their nil rate bands also pass over to the other, so that the surviving spouse can leave £650,000 of cash and (assuming they are passing it to children or grandchildren) £200,000 worth of property free of tax.

“The same does not apply to unmarried couples.”

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