Banks are "pickpocketing" bereaved families caught between long-standing inheritance tax and probate rules. This is because they are increasingly being forced to take out expensive loans to gain access to their inheritance - or fund death duty bills themselves. Experts highlight that he problem is not new but increasing house prices are dragging more estates into the IHT zone - the taxman received a record-breaking £5.2bn in IHT receipts in 2017/18, some £400m up on the previous year. Contrary to popular belief, IHT must be paid before a grant of probate gives recipients access to an estate. Quirks exist in the inheritance system and paying IHT to access the estate is one of them. Sometimes the bill can be insurmountable for a family already stretched and having to consider the cost of funeral arrangements. Some financial offerings look to capitalise on the system, such as high-rate loans to pay the IHT bill, which at its worst is akin to, according to some commentators (albeit rather emotively) pickpocketing a widow.