Parents are delaying making family inheritance decisions because they are concerned their children’s marriages might be on the verge of collapse as a result of the coronavirus lockdown.

Research carried out by Handelsbanken Wealth Management found that 67 per cent of parents were holding back on financial planning because they feared that wealth and assets built up over decades risked being handed over to in-laws as part of divorce settlements.

Christine Ross, head of private office (North) & client director at Handelsbanken Wealth Management, said: “Parents who are pessimistic about their children’s marriages are approaching us for advice on how to prevent assets from leaving the family for good.  This often results in parents favouring small financial gifts over lump sums, and in some cases setting up discretionary trusts.”

The survey found that nearly three-quarters (73 per cent) of respondents thought lockdown and financial issues related to the pandemic would lead to a surge in divorce rates.

More than a quarter (27 per cent) of the sampled parents said they had little or no confidence their children’s marriages would last a lifetime, while one in six (16 per cent) felt their in-laws weren’t good with money. The findings also showed that many of these conclusions were based on personal experience. More than one in four of the parents Handelsbanken spoke to said they had children who were either separated or divorced.

To further guard against anticipated losses of family wealth, a sizeable proportion (19 per cent) of respondents said they were giving directly to grandchildren.

“The emotional and financial pressures of an enforced lockdown have tested many marriages and sadly for some it will be the final straw,” Ross added. “It is not unusual for parents to disapprove of their children’s choice of partner, but they can be equally reluctant to interfere in case they cause a family rift.”

The Handelsbanken research was based on a sample of 1,070 parents, who were nationally representative in terms of age and geography.