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Conversations on Inheritance and Dying Still Difficult for Families

Families still find conversations about inheritance, estate planning and preparing for end-of-life very difficult and tend to avoid it where possible.

Estate Planning Not Seen as a Priority

A new survey by Brewin Dolphin questioned families about whether they discussed estate planning and found that 47% had yet to talk to loved ones about it. Around a quarter of these said it was because it wasn’t a priority yet as they weren’t old, 14% said it was because they don’t like talking about death, and 11% blamed it on the fact that it was a morbid subject.

However, it does appear that respondents would be more comfortable talking to certain people rather than others. Around 32% said they would feel most comfortable talking to their partner or spouse, 8% mentioned their mum and a similar number said a financial adviser would be a good person to talk to in the first instance.

However, it seems clear that gifting wealth – whether it is money, property or family heirlooms – is important to Britons, with 45% hoping to pass on a legacy to loved ones.  The research shows that the most common reason over 50s choose to pass on wealth after they have died is because they are worried they won’t have enough money to fund retirement or later life care (52%). Other reasons include wanting to help family members even if they’re not here to see them receive it (47%) and leaving younger family members something to remember them by (26%).

Living Legacies

However, the idea of giving a living legacy or early inheritance is also becoming increasingly popular. Around 49% of those opting for a living legacy said they were motivated by the thought of being around to watch loved ones benefit from their wealth, and 23% thought that younger family members need the money more than they do.

“Transferring wealth while you’re alive can have a transformative effect on both yours and your family’s life,” explained Liz Alley, Head of Financial Planning Operations, at Brewin Dolphin. “While we’re seeing an increase in people talking to us about estate planning, we want to encourage families to sit down together and talk about their wishes.  The conversation doesn’t have to centre on money or be upsetting; it can be nice to talk to older family members about heirlooms they want to pass on.  We want to help people start these conversations so they don’t leave it too late.”

End-of-Life Discussions Also Difficult

It’s not just conversations about inheritance and estate planning that families appear to be shying away from. Discussions about end-of-life are apparently proving equally problematic.

New research by Age UK and Malnutrition Task Force found that more than a third of people find it too difficult to talk about it with close friends or relatives, and around 40% admit to being unaware of their own families wishes around dying. Interestingly, people apparently find it easier to talk about death and dying with their own peer group than their family.

When questioned about why the topic was so difficult to talk about, people mentioned several perceived obstacles, including fear of upsetting the other person (mentioned by 50% of respondents), worry over causing offence (30%) and not knowing how to bring up the subject (25%).

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