Is the Inheritance a Dying Trend?


Not so long ago on Money Bulldog we wrote a post talking about a UK multi-millionaire who decided to sell his North East mansion and give away all of his wealth in setting up a new charity to support cancer patients. In the post we asked the question of how the children might feel, especially if they didn’t agree with their parent’s decision. Many of the comments on the post were overwhelmingly supportive of the generosity and selflessness of this North East millionaire and many people also said that children really didn’t have a right to expect any sort of inheritance from their parents.

When I was chatting with my wife about these comments we both agreed that it is funny how much attitudes towards the principle of an inheritance have changed in recent years or decades. Once upon a day it seemed that a parent’s main focus for working so hard in life was to ‘set their children up for a better future’, a future where they didn’t have to struggle, perhaps in the way that their own generation had struggled. Nowadays though it would seem that this is not necessarily the case, and it isn’t just millionaires who are taking the decision not to pass on their accumulated wealth to their children. Many people of more average means are also taking this same decision, if not for slightly different reasons.

A recent survey featured found that out of the 1000 over 55’s of whom they asked the question “Are you currently spending or do you plan to spend money for your children’s inheritance on enjoying your retirement?”, 25% said they planned to do so or even that they are already spending the cash. So we can see that many in the older generation are now less worried about the prospect of not leaving an inheritance behind for their children and would rather spend this money enjoying their retirement. The survey also found that 10% of the people questioned would also like to try some kind of extreme sport – how about you?

Of course there are another group of people out there, a group who would love nothing more than to have some form of substantial inheritance to pass on to their kid’s but who are finding that the cost of living or even their extended longevity is simply eating away at this inheritance year on year.

This all begs the question, is the whole idea of an inheritance a dying trend for most people? Are we living in an age where the majority of people will no longer be able to look forward to some kind of a financial windfall at some point in their later lives? A windfall that may have been able to help them to purchase their own house or dare I even say it, pay off debt. It certainly seems that this outcome is becoming more probable.

If this is the case then it does give the current generation of working adults a lot to think about when it comes to their own spending habits, or more importantly their saving habits. If this generation want to clear off debts, buy a house, provide an inheritance for their kids or do anything else along these lines, then for many it is going to be a case of achieving these goals by the work of their own hands and with the proceeds of their own savings accounts or investment decisions, rather than with the aid of an inherited financial windfall coming their way later on in life.

How important is the idea of an inheritance to you?

6 Responses to Is the Inheritance a Dying Trend?

  1. Catherine says:

    I would rather enjoy my money while alive and see it allocated how i wish, while alive. I’d rather see my family enjoy any money i may have for them rather than when im gone…

  2. Kathy says:

    Other than the examples of multi-millionaires (or richer) planning to give away their wealth, I suspect the main reason people say they aren’t leaving their descendants an inheritance is because there will be nothing to leave. With so many people having lost their jobs or been reduced to part time they probably won’t have anything they don’t need to live on themselves.

    From my own personal point of view. if my mom didn’t leave me something, I would feel hurt. The reason for that feeling is that she gave my brother (now deceased) a house and her husband gave his daughter a house. I didn’t receive that gift because in my mom’s eyes I didn’t need it. Personally, hubby and I are quite proud that we paid for our houses all by ourselves, but selfishly, the extra money would have helped us in a lot of ways. I plan to leave our son an inheritance but would love for him to accept a gift while he is young enough to enjoy its’ benefits.

  3. I am not selfish but I think leaving inheritance to those you love is a good thing. It brings the feeling that someone you love will feel the effort you put when you were working.
    I think I will let my children know their share from what I know in advance. That way I will enjoy to see them benefit from my hard work.

  4. I love what Warren Buffett says about an inheritance… “I want to be able to leave my kids enough for them to be able to do anything, but not so much that they think they don’t have to do anything”. He’s giving 99% of it to charities, but still leaving a generous amount to his children. I like that! It’s definitely starting to become a dying trend though.

  5. I think an inheritance should be considered a “goodwill gesture” rather than something “expected”. I find it wrong how many families get torn apart just because of money and other materialistic things. My partner’s mother is from such a family, and no one talks to anyone anymore!

    Also, as a mother myself, I’d rather be able to help my children while I’m still alive, e.g. helping them buy a house. At least that way I get to see them enjoy it, rather than fight over it. Not forgetting any inheritance tax they may have to pay.

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