Family conflict over money for 37% of millionaires’ families says Coutts

Thirty seven per cent of millionaires have admitted to conflict within the family when it comes to dividing money and assets for inheritance purposes. A Coutts report titled ‘Behind closed doors of inheriting family wealth’ surveyed 270 millionaires with at least £1m in liquid assets to find that a remarkable 58% do not have an up to date will in place.

The report found that one fifth of parents were keeping their true wealth a secret from their children over fears it will quash any aspirations they may have, or protect them from inadvertently revealing too much information to people who may then befriend them ‘for the wrong reasons’.

Of particular concern was the rise in publically available information fuelled by the rise in social media sites about confidential family affairs. Despite this, barely a quarter or 23% of parents would consider insisting on or even raising the idea of a prenuptial agreement to inheritors, despite divorce rates of 42% in the UK.

The report provides an eight-step journey to help wealthy families consider how best to pass down wealth in a way that meets their vision and objectives. The report also features a number of real life case studies with stories such as; “My daughter’s ex got two-thirds of her money” and “We’re giving most of our money to charity”.

Juliette Johnson, Executive Director at Coutts commented: “In the UK, 46% of marriages are subsequent marriages and with 2.5 million step-children in the UK, blended families and step-grandchildren are now part and parcel of family life which can add further complication to succession and inheritance planning. Our research shows that unless there is a clear plan and open communication about the succession process, family members can feel frightened and frustrated about how the family assets and money are divided following the death of both parents. This is already an emotional time – and can so easily lead to conflict, which in some instances can split families and cause long-term damage.”

Other key findings include:

One in five have never discussed their true wealth with their children

Two thirds of millionaires (56%) worry about paying too much tax

Nearly half of millionaires’ can’t decide how to divide up their estate between heirs

32% plan to pass on no wealth until the death of both parents

Passing wealth to the eldest child (primogeniture) is still the main wealth succession approach for one in 33 families.

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