The less potential heirs know about their inheritances, the more likely they are to fight about it, according to the latest UBS Investor Watch report issued by UBS Wealth Management Americas.
“It may not be an easy conversation to have, [but] talking openly about inheritance planning has a tremendous impact on heirs’ satisfaction with the wealth transfer process and lowers the likelihood of disagreements among surviving family members,” says the report.
When heirs do not know the details of the inheritance plan ahead of time, 27 percent disagree with the family about the distribution, compared to 12 percent who disagree when the plans are revealed before a death, UBS says.
The situation is even worse when there is an unresolved issue, such as who is going to inherit the family home, prior to a parent's passing. Sensitive issues like deciding the fate of the family home may not be simple to resolve prior to a parent's passing, but it will only be more complicated after they pass, UBS says.
In 83 percent of nuclear families, the heirs report satisfaction with the inheritance process. That percentage drops to 56 percent for blended families, UBS says, and the conversation while the donors are still alive becomes even more important.
As an alternative, many benefactors prefer to begin passing on wealth to their heirs while living, as opposed to posthumously. Eighty percent of benefactors in the survey provided financial support to their adult children, and 23 percent have set up trust funds for their children.
Although only one third of the heirs in the survey say they wish their parents had handled matters differently, 72 percent say they will handle matters differently when it is their time to pass the money on.
Heirs say they will keep their will updated (47 percent), disclose the whereabouts of all financial accounts (43 percent), take steps to minimize taxes on their future heirs (34 percent), proactively discuss wealth transfer plans openly with heirs (34%) and plan ahead before the onset of aging or mental capacity issues (29%).
The UBS Investor Watch report is based on responses from 2,882 adults, most with at least $250,000 in investable assets and nearly half with at least $1 million in investable assets.