Millions of Brits are relying on inheriting money from a loved one for their future financial security, new research has revealed.
Four in ten admitted that they are counting on a cash lump sum being left to them while 20 per cent said that they wouldn’t be able to reach key milestones in their life without a pay-out from someone’s will.
Some went as far as to say their life was effectively ‘on hold’ until they were in a better financial position.
One in 5 said they were relying on an inheritance to help them pay off debts, while 22 per cent said they were hoping they would get left some cash so they can move to a bigger and nicer house.
Other reasons that people were hoping to be left money were to start a family, pay for their children’s education or to pay for a wedding.
The survey of 2,000 Brits, conducted by specialist probate lawyers Slater and Gordon, showed that 36 per cent were so reliant on an inheritance they would be willing to take family members to court if they did not get what they thought was a fair share of the cash in a relative’s will.
James Beresford, probate lawyer at Slater and Gordon said: “More and more people are reliant on the money they receive from probate settlements when loved ones die. This is generally because of the rise in the price of property means that people have larger estates than they ever have done in the past.
“That money can be the difference between being financial comfortable or not and people are more likely than ever to fight over an estate if they feel it has been unfairly distributed.
“The sums of money involved mean there is an incentive for people to make sure they get what is rightfully theirs. We have seen a year on year increase in people coming to us with contentious probate claims over the last ten years and, while it is sad to see families become embroiled in battles that can destroy relationships, you can understand that many people may feel their life is on hold without cash they may have been promised or expecting.”
The number of High Court legal battles over wills has increased by more than 700 per cent in the past five years with recent cases like Ilott and Mitson meaning that people are more aware of their rights over their parents’ estates.
One in 10 said that without money from a probate settlement they would struggle to retire while 17 per cent were planning to use an inheritance to pay off their mortgage.
Other reasons people were waiting on cash included wanting to take a holiday (14 per cent), go travelling (18 per cent), buy a car (14 per cent) or simply to enjoy themselves (10 per cent).
The average sum that Brits are hoping to be left is £91,800 while 23 per cent are expecting more than £100,000.
While most were hoping to inherit cash 43 per cent were hoping to be left property while 19 per cent were expecting jewellery.
But despite so many people counting on being included in someone’s will just 35 per cent said they had actually made a will themselves.
The most popular reasons that people gave for not writing a will were because they didn’t think they had enough assets to make it worthwhile or because they thought it was bad luck.
Even fewer people had spoken to their loved ones about what they wanted to happen to their assets after they died.
James Beresford, from Slater and Gordon, said: “It’s important that people make their intentions known to their loved ones before they die to allow everyone to fully understand the thought process behind the will and save relatives from potential arguments
“When a loved one dies feelings often can run high and this has been intensified in recent years with the amount of money at stake in an estate.
“So often families can avoid a lot of heartache by being open with one another about what their intentions are when it comes to their estate especially where property is involved. But if you feel you have not received what you think you should have it is always best to get legal advice from a specialist.”