Inheritance is likely to become an increasingly important way for young, and not so young, people to own a property, achieve financial stability and ensure a “middle-class” lifestyle, according to a newspaper report this week.

The effects of Covid-19, combined with an unstable jobs market and four decades of steady property price inflation have combined to mean many people will be far more reliant on what they inherit, rather than their career, for their long-term prosperity.

In an article in The Guardian, Sydney University academics Lisa Atkins and Martijn Konings said: “Societies have long been used to thinking about class in terms of employment, with the job you do and the amount you earn reflecting what class bracket you belong to. This idea is firmly rooted in a worldview that emerged during the middle of the 20th century. But today it’s property ownership, not employment, that shapes somebody’s life chances.

“In that sense, we are seeing a return to the days when wage-labour was a condition of social marginality, condemning people to a life of day-to-day survival and excluding them from building up a stake in society.”

Atkins and Konings also point out that millennials are the first to experience the full effects of the new reality although, because property can be passed from one generation to the next, some individuals stand to benefit a lot more than others.

With many ordinary homes rising in value every year by more than what the average person can expect to earn, the idea that someone could buy a property based on wages alone is becoming increasingly unlikely, especially in the south-east of England.

In addition, millennials may have to wait for many years if they hope to benefit from an inheritance.

Neil Fraser, partner at probate research firm Fraser and Fraser, said: “Over the years we have seen a steady increase in the average age of beneficiaries in line with increases in life expectancy. When a person dies intestate (without leaving a valid will) their estate must be shared out according to the rules of intestacy, which give preference to the oldest surviving relatives. By association that is likely to have consequences for younger people.”

Fraser and Fraser remains fully operational and is here to deal with any probate or missing beneficiary queries you may have during this exceptional time. Please do not hesitate to get in touch with business development manager Nick Howitt. We are able to offer all our services remotely and we have secure video conferencing facilities.