Recent research from equity release adviser Key, finds more than 11.6 million people in the UK have received an inheritance in the past 10 years. Currently, the average age of heirs receiving a windfall of inheritance is 47 years old which means on average 22% of adults will have already received an inheritance.

The research found that of those who had received inheritance, 51% were left money by their parents, with the average pay-out around £65,600. While 19% received cash from grandparents and around 16% were left money by uncles or aunts.

A report by Tower Street Finance revealed that many beneficiaries used their inheritances to help with their retirement fund (16%) and paying off credit cards or other debts (19%). Property was also found to be a large focus of inheritance proceeds, revealing that 1 in 5 beneficiaries planned to use their inheritance monies to pay off their mortgage and many using their inheritance to buy a first home.

However, while property was a huge part of an inheritance, 45% of UK adults plan on selling any property they inherit. While spouses and civil partners are the only family members completely exempt from inheritance tax on their homes, 73% still plan on leaving their estate to their children, step-children and grandchildren. But with increasing house prices pushing more estates into liable territory (The average property in London is valued at £487k, way over the £325k threshold) beneficiaries could even see inheriting the family home as more of a burden.

Furthermore, the report also found that that the majority of UK adults have a limited understanding of inheritance and intestacy rules, or how long the probate process takes and so a large proportion of adults haven’t planned ahead and made a Will.

Tower Street Finance Director, Dicky Davies said: “The realities of avoiding the topic of inheritance are stark. The number of people dying in the UK without a Will is higher than ever, and more people are being forced into legal battles over inheritance disputes, with the Ministry of Justice claiming that the number of court cases has now reached record levels.”

The absence of a Will can be an issue for beneficiaries who may be reliant on pay-outs if they are excluded. In these instances the Laws of Intestacy determines who will inherit the estate.

Fraser and Fraser is a firm of international probate researchers, we are dedicated to supporting the legal profession in cases where the deceased hasn’t left a Will. We trace missing heirs and beneficiaries to unclaimed estates worldwide by developing partnerships and working relationships with professional genealogists around the world.