your mother may be interested in the following concept to reduce the value of her estate immediately.
One way of gifting cash is through a Discounted Gift Trust.
This would allow your your mother to gift some of her cash away to the family (e.g. grandchildren). Let's call them beneficiaries. THis would be done through a Trust (normally in an Investment Bond). The beneficiaries would not be allowed to touch the gift until the inevitable happened to your mother. Your mother is then allowed to take an income FOR LIFE, which is tax free to her (given certain rules and circumstances) from the gift she has made to the Trust.
The result is that on starting the trust and making the gift, a considerable portion (e.g. 50% for a healthy 70yr old female) of the amount put into it would be immediately classed as outside the estate for Inheritance Tax purposes.
After 7 years the whole falls outside the estate, and your mother has then avoided Inheritance Tax on complete gift. But of course she still receives the income for life, thus having some access to the fund.
As you can see with a Discounted Gift Trust one can reduce the value of their estate immediately, thus reducing IHT, but still receive a tax effieient income to live off.
If you want more info on this, don't hesitate to get in touch via e mail or phone, under no obligation.
Investment and Inheritance Tax Planner
Zurich Advice Network
e mail: email@example.com
Tel: 0208 201 6574 Mobile 07957 440 724
[I advise on Inheritance Tax Planning, and specialise in setting up Discounted Gift Trusts]