A Birmingham accountant has warned people not to "stick their heads in the sand" over inheritance tax planning.
Inheritance tax has in recent years become a major contributor to the Treasury where the prize is being hard fought by the Revenue.
Henry Briggs, senior partner of Haines Watts, Birmingham, said he had been "taken aback" by the aggression of the Revenue.
He noted: "There is no compassion. In my recent experience, the tax inspector regards IHT as a battle between one professional and another. They routinely challenge house values and lifetime gifts in order to extract every last penny from the deceased's estate.
"Unfortunately, there are some professional advisers, particularly those who do not normally deal with HM Revenue and Customs, who will not fight with equal vigour. In consequence, beneficiaries are receiving less inheritance than they need have done had sufficient planning and forethought gone into how an estate might be dealt with."
Mr Briggs said IHT had gone from being a marginal contributor to the Treasury, after the cost of collection, to a significant one, in a few short years.
"At a flat rate of 40 per cent on capital assets, it needs to be taken seriously. Increases in house values alone will draw a rapidly rising number of individuals' estates into the net.
"But it is HMRC taking a more aggressive approach to probate tax returns, that should be met with at least an equal and opposite force, not only in estate valuation, but also - before it is too late - in IHT avoidance planning.
"It is quite possible that it is the friendly family solicitor that is left with this task when it is not necessarily something they relish or regularly experience."