New research shows increasing number of older people prefer to leave ‘living inheritance’ to loved ones

Research into the attitudes of older people towards inheritance has found that an increasing number of them want to help their loved ones as much as possible while they’re still alive.

The annual survey of homeowners aged over 60 in Ireland, which was undertaken on behalf of Spry Finance1 by leading independent market research company Behaviour & Attitudes, discovered that 85% of Irish people over 60 have a plan for leaving an inheritance – but only 56% have a detailed will.


Spry Finance because life is for living

Asked whether they agreed or disagreed with a selection of statements regarding their attitudes to inheritance, those surveyed responded:

  • 72% said they wanted to do as much as possible to help people they care about while they’re still alive – up from 69% last year
  • 60% said they were not willing to make compromises to improve any inheritance they might leave, and 76% of respondents felt that it was unfair to expect them to do so
  • 82% said tax on inheritance is too high
  • 48% believe their children have the right to expect to inherit the family home – down from 50% last year

Ailish McGlew, Head of Marketing Communications for Spry Finance, said: “It seems that traditional attitudes towards inheritance are shifting, with this year’s research showing a small increase – up from 69% to 72% – in the number of over-60s who want to do as much as they can while they are still alive to help loved ones. Indeed, 57% of those surveyed agreed that ‘giving while living’ is a better way for them to help their children.

“It’s clear that older people want to maintain their quality of life and feel it is unfair for them to be pressured into making cutbacks and going without in order to leave a larger inheritance when they are gone.”

“Currently, there’s 33% tax on any inheritance a child receives from their parents that is above the lifetime allowance threshold of €335,000. Our survey shows that a large majority of older homeowners believe that tax rate is too high, or that the allowance threshold is too low.

Other notable findings uncovered by the research include: 40% of over-60s do not worry about leaving an inheritance to their family, while 66% have themselves been the beneficiary of an inheritance, with average age at the time of receipt being 48.

Ms McGlew added: “It is important that lenders listen to their customers to fully understand their changing financial needs and objectives. Older people don’t feel old, yet they are generally under-served by traditional lenders. This means that they may find it difficult to access the credit they need to do the things that they want to do in later life.

“How and when they use the wealth they have built up over their lifetime is a key factor in how older people are viewing later life and inheritance. Ultimately, it is up to each individual to decide what is best for them in relation to leaving an inheritance for their loved ones, and this decision should be respected.


“For those wishing to spend – or gift – their own money during their own lifetime, the Spry Finance Lifetime Loan offers customers real choice on how to release and use the value that they have built up in their homes, and empowers people who are living longer, to live better.”

1 B&A research, August 2023, Irish over 60s, homeowners, predominantly Dublin and urban areas, sample size 306