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Home/Couples ditch their Isas to beat new death tax: Widows will...

Couples ditch their Isas to beat new death tax: Widows will have to pay tax on accounts not held in joint names

Families are stripping thousands of pounds out of their Isas and Premium Bonds to avoid a crippling new death tax.

In some cases, they are giving up small fortunes in tax breaks and turning their backs on the chance of winning £1million after a lifetime of investing in Premium Bonds.

For the first time since the seventies, widows will have to pay tax on money and property left to them by their partner.

Married couples do not pay inheritance tax and, usually, any accounts or property held in joint names will pass automatically to the surviving spouse on death without a hitch. But some accounts, such as Isas and Premium Bonds, cannot be held in joint names.

That often means the bereaved partner must apply for the legal authority to manage their loved one's money. And the cost of getting the necessary document — which is called grant of probate — is about to sky rocket.

Money Mail has been inundated with letters from married couples who are worried that their spouse will be hit with a huge bill to access their accounts when they die.

From next month, the £215 probate fee (£155 if you use a solicitor) will be replaced by a controversial new tax that could cost the bereaved up to £20,000, depending on the size of the deceased's estate.