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‘People prefer to live well than leave an inheritance’

Most people are unconcerned about leaving an inheritance, research for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has found.

Sixty-seven per cent of a national sample of 2,000 adults say they would enjoy life and not worry about making bequests,despite 90 per cent having the potential to leave a bequest. Only 28 per cent say they would be careful about spending their money in order to leave a bequest.

People in their 50s are least convinced about the need to budget for an inheritance but even among the over-80s, 54 per cent think it is more important to enjoy life rather than worry about leaving a legacy.

Over half of those interviewed do not know that the inheritance tax exemption between married couples does not apply to cohabiting partners. Only 19 per cent know approximately how much inheritance tax would be paid on an estate of 300,000 left by a widow to her children.

Report co-author Karen Rowlingson says: “This report suggests that although most people would like to be able to make bequests when they die, they are also willing to use up their savings and housing equ- ity to maintain a reasonable standard of living.”

Brooks Macdonald senior consultant Tim Martineau says: “I am surprised by the findings because a lot of our work is done for people looking to preserve wealth for their families although we do have some people looking to spend their children’s inheritance.

“I would suspect that the research is based on a wider sample than high-net-worth clients.”

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