Majority of Brits avoid the topic of inheritance and find it 'very awkward' to discuss

27 Feb 2023

Two in three Brits (66%) have not discussed inheritance with their parents in any detail.

Most UK adults (72%) expect to leave an inheritance to family/friend/others when they pass away.

Nearly half of Brits (43%) find it very awkward to talk about this topic.

One in five (20%) feel that inheritance is THE most awkward thing they could discuss.

Four in ten Brits (41%) expecting an inheritance don’t have a clue what they will get.

A quarter (24%) have argued about inheritance with their family at least once.

Experts reveal how to make inheritance talks less awkward.

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More than seven in ten (72%) Brits expect to leave some sort of inheritance to their loved ones, but many have not discussed this yet (66%) and consider it a very awkward topic, according to new research by Tower Street Finance.

The Probate Lending Experts polled 2,000 UK adults, who are – or expect to be – a beneficiary of a Will, to find out how people feel about this topic, and if they know what they may be left by their parents.

Two thirds (64%) of parents say they plan to leave assets to their children specifically.

However, the majority of Brits (66%) have not discussed inheritance in any detail and a quarter (24%) feel that inheritance is THE most awkward conversation they could have.

People from Bristol are the most likely to have never discussed inheritance with their parents / children (31%), followed by those in Liverpool (30%) and Birmingham (28%).

Men (47%) are more likely to find it an uncomfortable conversation than women (40%).

Even though politics is often seen as a divisive topic, more than a third of people (38%) would far rather discuss this than the ‘I’ word.

This lack of openness is leaving four in ten (41%) feeling clueless about what they will get when their parents pass away.

On average, people expect to inherit assets worth £159k from each parent. However, the average financial legacy was actually £221k in 2022.

Experts warn that failing to plan for and talk about financial legacies in advance can lead to heated inheritance disputes down the line and also potentially unexpected bills for beneficiaries.

Nearly a quarter of Brits (24%) admitted they’ve already argued with family members about inheritance at least once.

Manchester is the most argumentative city when it comes to inheritance (44% have had at least one argument), followed by Glasgow (39%) and Sheffield (31%).

Charlotte Cox, 33, a marketing director from North Yorkshire shared her experience:

“My parents have brought up the topic of inheritance with my sister and I a couple of times, but it’s never been discussed in any detail. It always feels so awkward – when they bring it up, I just go quiet. I don’t expect anything from them. My partner and I are doing fairly well and are self-sufficient. I just want my parents to have a good quality of life in their retirement and not worry about us. However, my sister’s financial situation is different, and I know there is a level of expectation with her. They still give her money from time to time, and my dad has said they will ‘make sure it all evens out in the inheritance’ - but that just makes me feel even more uncomfortable. I always reply with ‘honestly, don’t worry about it’, but he seems pretty set on it all being fair. I worry that down the line my sister will be really upset if I’m left more than her, as she’s already had some money in advance. I’d hate for this to cause issues but bringing it up now just feels so depressing. I also don’t want to upset by parents by going against their wishes. The whole topic just feels like a complete minefield.”

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.”

Dicky Davies, Co-Founder and Business Development Director at Tower Street Finance, says: “Our research shows that inheritance can be a very sensitive topic that a lot of people struggle to bring up. However, with most people planning to leave money or assets to loved ones after they have passed, but less than half (48%) having a written Will in place, being open about your specific wishes is especially important. With the increase in blended families, putting a Will in place is even more important if you have children from previous relationships that you want to be treated differently. What’s more, avoiding this topic and not putting plans in place in advance could leave beneficiaries with a heftier IHT bill. We know that the hardest part for many is to initiate a conversation, but it’s worth the effort. Inheritance disputes can be upsetting and are time-consuming. If you do find yourself in this situation though, we can help you cover legal costs through our inheritance dispute funding product.”

More information about the study can be found at: