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What to do if you inherit shares

Holly Thomas / 21 August 2015 ( 30 October 2018 )

Inheriting shares involves a certain amount of paperwork to get them re-registered into a new ownership - and tax implications for the new owner should you wish to sell your inherited shares.

Calculator on top of financial papers
The most efficient way to hold shares is in an ISA, as it means less money is handed over to the taxman

Here’s what you need to do if you inherit some shares in a will:

Get the inherited shares in your name

First of all, you will need to inform the respective share registrars that the former shareholder is now deceased. 

When Grant of Probate is received, send a sealed copy of this to the respective registrars and ask for their records to be updated.

After confirmation of this has been received from the registrars, the shares can either be passed to a broker for them to be sold, or if the shares are to be re-registered, you will need to contact the registrars to obtain the necessary forms to achieve this.

What is probate? 

Be tax efficient

The most efficient way to hold shares is in an ISA, as it means less money is handed over to the taxman. 

Savers are not allowed, under current ISA rules, to simply transfer existing holdings directly into the tax wrapper. The shares need to be sold and bought back again, via an ISA. The process has a rather quirky name, known as “bed and ISA”. 

Informative, in-depth and in the know: get the latest money news with Saga Magazine. 

It is a widely used process but there are some charges to prepare for. In undertaking the “bed and ISA” strategy, the sale of the shares should trigger a capital gain, which is taxable.

There are some dealing costs to consider too. The exact charges will depend on the advisory firm or stockbrokers used. Some will vary their fees depending on the value, or frequency of these share deals. 

It’s important to choose the broker whose charges best reflect the amount you are looking to sell, whether percentage or fixed cost. 

Remember that unless the shares are valued at under £1000, selling your inherited shares would also incur stamp duty at 0.5%.

The other ‘cost’ to bear in mind is any loss incurred if you sell your shares lower than the price at which you buy.

Can you inherit an ISA from your spouse? 

Want to sell inherited shares?

Louis Coke at Charles Stanley says: “If you are looking for a broker to sell the shares for you, they will typically need the share certificates, transfer forms and identification from you as the beneficiary, or, if you are selling the shares from the estate, they will need the Grant of Probate, and authority from the executors to sell the shares.”

Each brokerage firm may have slightly different requirements, so it is best to check with them first, to see if anything extra is required.

To work out your taxable gain, just take your net sale proceeds (after commission) and deduct the value of the shares at the date you inherited them.

This will give you your capital gain chargeable to tax. If this figure is less than £11,100 then you will have no tax to pay – as long as you haven’t made any other capital gains that year.

Since this is an annual allowance, you could sell some on April 5th and the rest after April 6th and get two years' worth of allowances. 

You need to find out what price you acquired the shares at. You would have been given that as part of the inheritance.

Informative, in-depth and in the know: get the latest money news with Saga Magazine. 

Next article: Worried about inheritance tax? Read our guide to reducing your liability >>>


The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.