Four in ten set for inheritance shock



By far the majority of us expect to inherit something from our parents. For some people it's a handy nest-egg to pay off the mortgage, for others it's the only thing that will keep them solvent in retirement. For some families, inheritance may well be the most important part of their wealth (such as William and Harry), however, new research has revealed that in the real world four in ten people will get nothing.

So where has the money gone, and what can we do to protect ourselves?

Relying on the money

Skipton Building Society found that 75% of people aged 20-35 expect to inherit from their parents. Their expectations are impressively high - and they are hoping to receive an average of £78,000.

Many have come to rely on the money. The research showed that a fifth are counting on their parent's inheritance to help them get out of debt, while another fifth hope they'll finally be able to step foot on the property ladder. A quarter hope they'll be able to pay off the mortgage and 15% are banking on having it to put their own children through university.

Particularly worrying is the fifth who are hoping their parent's wealth will sort out all of their money problems, and have completely shelved all financial plans for the future as a result.


Unfortunately, the research also showed that a great number of them are in for a nasty surprise. While 84% of parents would love to be able to leave thousands of pounds to their offspring in order to carve out a comfortable future for them, they have chosen to spend much of the money on the family now - four in 10 have already been giving their children hand-outs to help them with college fees, driving lessons and rent payments.

Meanwhile, 49% of parents aged 50 and over have already had to dip into their savings to get by. Stacey Stothard, Corporate Communications Manager at Skipton Building Society, said: "The sad reality is when times are tough financially for children, they're also tough for their parents, so it comes as little surprise that many have had to dip in to chunks of their savings to get by. What's more, many parents who can see their children struggling financially are increasingly sharing their money with their children while they're alive and well. It goes without saying that this will impact on any inheritance later on."

Protect yourself

It reveals just how dangerous it is to rely on an inheritance for anything. Stothard says: "The knock on effect could see children sleepwalking into a financial nightmare, basing their financial plans on something they actually might never receive. Rather than second-guessing their parents financial matters, people should never ignore the benefits of investing a little time into fully understanding their own." The answer is, therefore, to get to grips with your finances, and make plans of your own. You need to be saving towards things like property ownership, education for your offspring and your retirement yourself. If you want to factor inheritance into those plans (and many millions of people will), you need to talk to your parents about it - to be certain that your expectations match their intentions.

As Stothard says: "No matter what your financial circumstances, it's much better to recognise where you are and to review your financial affairs regularly, rather than place a dependence on benefiting from someone else's. Doing the latter is a big gamble, and in today's financial climate, it might not pay off."

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