How do Brits feel about discussing inheritance with family members?
We’ve asked Brits to tell us how often they talk about inheritance and how these conversations go.
Talking with a loved one about what will happen to their assets after they die is not an easy conversation, yet it is an essential first step to avoid any surprises during the probate process.
This is especially true today, as we previously found out that two thirds (64%) of Brits would not be able to afford the costs associated with inheriting property (£23k on average excluding inheritance tax) without having to take out a loan.
With this in mind, we’ve asked 2,000 Brits, who are – or expect to be – a beneficiary of a Will, how often they talk about inheritance and how they feel about discussing the topic.
How often do families talk about inheritance?
According to a recent survey we ran, the majority of people in the UK (72%) expect to leave some sort of inheritance, with two thirds (64%) planning to name their children as beneficiaries in their Will.
However, our new poll shows that most Brits (66%) have not discussed inheritance with their parents/guardians in detail yet.
Shockingly, one in five Brits (19%) have never talked about inheritance with their parents/guardians, despite expecting to inherit from them.
In the regional breakdown, people from Bristol were the most likely to have never discussed inheritance with their parents (31%), followed by Liverpool (30%) and Birmingham (28%).
On the other hand, people from Manchester (9%), Leeds (9%) and Southampton (7%) were most likely to talk about inheritance with their parents often.
Do people know what they are going to inherit?
When it comes to knowing what properties or valuables beneficiaries can expect to inherit, our survey revealed that there seems to be a significant lack of knowledge among Brits regarding what they are likely to receive.
We found that overall, two in five (41%) are clueless about what they will inherit.
Over a quarter (27%) know they are likely to inherit something, but just aren’t sure what/how much.
A quarter of respondents (24%) said they only have a rough idea, and just one in five Brits (20%) are confident they know what they will inherit.
Only one in twenty-five (4%) 25–34 year-olds know exactly what they will be left – meaning that the vast majority (96%) don’t know.
Newcastle (37%) was the city that had the highest number of respondents who said they know exactly what they will be left.
Liverpool residents (21%) were the most unaware about their inheritance, followed by those in Birmingham (19%) and Sheffield (17%).
Do Brits find inheritance is an awkward thing to talk about?
As a potential reason for the avoidance of inheritance discussions, we wanted to find out how many Brits say that inheritance is awkward to talk about and how this compares to discussing other difficult topics.
Overall, almost half of all Brits interviewed (43%) agreed that they perceive inheritance talks as awkward.
We then asked respondents to select all topics that they thought are less awkward to discuss than inheritance:
- Debts – 17%
- N/A – I don’t think any of these are less awkward than discussing inheritance – 24%
- Serious health issues/concerns – 24%
- Religion – 25%
- Romantic relationships – 26%
- Money in general (excluding inheritance) – 26%
- Work career – 36%
- Politics – 38%
Our results show that over a third (38%) would rather discuss politics which is known as being another notoriously divisive topic for many families.
The topic which the least respondents selected as being more awkward than inheritance were debts (17%) and serious health issues/concerns (24%).
Do families argue about inheritance?
Unfortunately talks about inheritance don’t always go as well as people would like, as nearly a quarter (24%) of respondents argued with a family member about this at least once.
According to our research, 25–34-year-olds are the most likely to argue with other family members about inheritance (41% have had at least one argument).
They are followed by 18-24 year-olds (32%) and 35–44 year-olds (31%).
Manchester is the most argumentative city when it comes to inheritance, as over two in five (44%) have had at least one argument with family members, followed by Glasgow (39%) and Sheffield (31%).
Southampton (93% never had an argument), Liverpool (91%) and Norwich (87%) residents on the other hand are the least likely to have argued about inheritance.
Starting these tricky conversations is key
Advising on awkward inheritance conversations and how to approach them, Carla Morris, financial planner at wealth manager RBC Brewin Dolphin, says: “Open communication is an extremely important way of avoiding conflict. An honest series of conversations could help loved ones understand decisions and avoid arguments further down the line.
“The hardest part of communicating your plans is simply starting the conversation. A useful place to begin is by writing down your values and sharing these thoughts with your children. Go through your own experience with money and the factors that led to your wealth, such as disciplined spending and investment decisions.”
“Discussing where the money came from can help your successors understand that their wealth and assets did not just happen by chance, and that they are being entrusted with an opportunity and should manage it responsibly.”
She continues: “If one child is likely to inherit more than the others, it is imperative you discuss this early on. Often, family discord arises when children discover they will be receiving unequal shares after one’s passing, generally this can be avoided by communicating beforehand.”
Our research shows that inheritance can be a very sensitive topic that a lot of people still struggle to bring up or discuss with their loved ones.
However, avoiding this issue could leave beneficiaries with a hefty bill if they don’t know what exactly they will be left with. Likewise, if you are leaving an inheritance, it will be harder to guarantee that your estate will be split in the way you intended if you don’t have these important conversations now.
We know that the hardest part for many is to initiate a conversation, so if you need expert help to discuss your inheritance options, we’d recommend you reach out to a solicitor or Will writer who can help you start the conversation today.
Inheritance is a confusing topic, so we’re here to help you solve these types of inheritance problems and support you in getting some of your inheritance quicker.
Please contact us via phone or email if you have questions about any of our Probate Lending solutions.
About Our Report Sources and Methodology
- The majority of these stats come from a survey with 2,000 UK adults (who are – or expect to be – a beneficiary of a Will) in January 2023, by TLF.
- We also ran a survey in October 2022 with 2,000 UK adults in which we asked how many plan to leave an inheritance.
- Data was split by respondent age, gender and city.