23% of millionaires do not discuss inheritance

The 36-page study from private bank Coutts showed that just as wealth has accumulated among the ultra high net worth, so too the potential need for advice has grown on where to invest.

However, the report also showed that barely a quarter of parents – 23 per cent – had ever discussed the scale of wealth - and what to do with it - with their children.

The report, Breaking the Wealth Taboo, has been published to highlight how family conflict and inadequate financial planning could prevent wealth being passed down the generations. Its survey of 270 millionaires showed that one in three families row about inheritance, while more than half, 58 per cent, have yet to update their wills to reflect their changing family situations.

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Juliette Johnson, executive director for Coutts, said: “Blended families and step-grandchildren are now part and parcel of family life, which can add further complication to succession and inheritance planning.

“Unless there is a clear plan and open communication about the process, family members can feel frightened and frustrated about how the family assets and money are divided following the death of both parents.”

The traditional practice of primogeniture, where the eldest son in a family was preferred for an inheritance, was dying out among millionaires, the Coutts report found. Nearly half of millionaires were unable to decide how to divide their estate between heirs but a similar number planned to give an equal portion to each child. Only 3 per cent of parents surveyed would give all their wealth to their eldest son.

Adviser view

Jonothan McColgan, director of Somerset-based Combined Financial Strategies, said: “The main bugbear for millionaires is where control of the money goes, particularly if a child marries someone they don’t approve of, and the fact that wealth gets lost in divorce cases. Also, more are encouraging their children to work rather than rely on their parents’ money.”