Nearly 80 per cent of families do not have any estate planning strategy in place, according to a survey from Schroders Personal Wealth.
The wealth manager asked 1,000 parents over the age of 60 and found 78 per cent had no planning strategy in place.
Four in ten said they never discussed later life planning with their children, despite a vast majority (72 per cent) wishing to pass on their wealth to their children after death.
Just 13 per cent of respondents said they would pass their wealth onto their children during their own lifetimes.
The report laid bare the difficulties people in the UK face when talking about money.
Two thirds of respondents said they rarely (or never) discussed inheritance with their children. Of the 22 per cent that do have an estate plan in place, only 48 per cent said their children know exactly what the plan is.
Mark Duckworth, chief executive of Schroders Personal Wealth, said: “Over £5.5tn will move hands between generations in the UK between now and 2055, peaking in 2035. Having a plan in place on how to handle this efficiently is crucial to pass wealth on smoothly, avoid family disputes and manage the tax bill.
“But our research in this report shows the difficulties many families have when it comes to talking about money. More needs to be done to encourage stronger engagement with long term financial planning.
"We believe that with some guidance and a plan in place, families can overcome the feelings of worry and start having the conversations they need to have to plan for their future.”
The report also surveyed 1,000 UK adults aged 30-59 with at least one parent alive, and a third said they were worried about the prospect of managing the finances of their parents if they are no longer able to do it themselves.
The main reason they reported was feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of managing parental finances, with 41 per cent of respondents saying this was a worry.
A further 32 per cent said they were worried they would do something wrong, 22 per cent were worried about disagreeing with siblings, and 20 per cent were worried about making decisions that could lose money.