Don’t rely on inheritance to fund your future

Pensions and retirement
Views & insights

Counting on an inheritance to fund your future is risky. Find out how to ensure your retirement is built on solid foundations


9 June 2022 | 3 minute read

The increase in overall levels of household wealth over recent decades has created an image of rich older generations who are able to bequeath vast sums of money to their children and grandchildren.

While this may be true for some families, it certainly isn’t the case for everyone. Even if your family seems relatively wealthy, unexpected circumstances could arise that mean you don’t receive the inheritance you were envisioning. 

Read on to discover why relying on future inheritances isn’t wise – and what you could consider doing instead.

Life doesn’t always go as planned

Assuming an inheritance will fund your retirement is risky because it isn’t tangible and none of us can predict what is around the corner. 

These are some of the risks to consider:

1.    Your parents’ retirement may be longer than expected

Life expectancy has risen significantly over the past 40 years. In 1980-82, a 60-year-old woman could expect to live an additional 20.8 years, but by 2018-2020 this had increased to 25.2 years, according to the Office for National Statistics1. In other words, if your parents stopped work at age 60, their money may need to last for around three decades in retirement. If they didn’t plan for this, they might have to resort to spending money they had earmarked for future generations. And if you do inherit, it might come much later than you imagined, when you’re well into your own retirement, and therefore not provide the financial support you were expecting. 

2.    Long-term care could prove costly

It’s upsetting to think that your parents might need some sort of long-term care as they get older. But the high cost of care means it is an important risk to factor in when considering how much money you may or may not inherit. The average cost of a place in a UK care home is £34,944 per year, rising to £48,720 per year if nursing care is required2. If both your parents require care for several years, this could significantly affect the family finances.

3.    Your parents could spend the money

Your parents might view their money as theirs – and rightfully so. After working hard for decades, their priority might be to live life to the full rather than to preserve their money for their children and grandchildren. They may well share the view of celebrities like Sir Elton John and Daniel Craig, who have reportedly said they will not be passing on their millions to their children when they pass away.

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Your future is in your hands

Since you can’t be certain whether an inheritance is coming or not, it could be wise to adopt the view that you won’t inherit anything and, instead, focus on creating a concrete and robust financial plan today. If you do eventually inherit, this can be viewed as an extra helping hand. 

Contributing to a pension is something you can control, and it’s a fantastic way of saving for your future because of the tax relief you receive on personal contributions. This effectively supercharges your pension savings by 20-45%, depending on your income tax band. The combination of contributions, tax relief and compounded investment growth could help you build up a substantial pension pot over time, so you can rest assured you’ve given yourself the best chance of a secure financial future.

Next steps

Your retirement might still seem a long way off, but planning early on, while you’re still earning and saving money, has the potential to make a much bigger difference to your financial security than if you wait until you’re older. Organising your finances isn’t something you want to get wrong, which is why it’s important to get some really good financial advice. A financial adviser will guide you through your options and advise on the best course of action for your individual circumstances. For smart advice that’s tailored to you, speak to one of our financial advisers today.

1 ONS national life tables (UK)

The value of investments, and any income from them, can fall and you may get back less than you invested. Tax treatment depends on the individual circumstances of each client and may be subject to change in the future. Information is provided only as an example and is not a recommendation to pursue a particular strategy. Information contained in this document is believed to be reliable and accurate, but without further investigation cannot be warranted as to accuracy or completeness.

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