Billions of pounds bequeathed each year in cash

In Industry Insights by woateam

More than £17bn in cash is left to beneficiaries in the UK each year, highlighting the need for financial advice for those in later life, research has shown.

Analysis from bereavement services firm Equiniti Benefactor, published showed an average of £69,000 in cash was left per estate. A total of £10bn in securities — such as stocks, shares and bonds — was handed down at death each year.

The figures also showed property continued to dominate the value of assets at bereavement, accounting for 54 per cent of the total wealth with a total of £43bn left behind in 2016/17.

By comparison, securities accounted for 13 per cent while cash was about 22 per cent of all assets passed down.

Insurance policies only made up 2 per cent of goods inherited by beneficiaries while loans and other assets account for 6 per cent.

Stuart Simpson, head of Equiniti Benefactor, thought the figures showed the need for financial advice for those in later life.

He said: “For estates to be holding nearly £70,000 in cash at the point of death raises questions about how people are handling their finances in later life.

“Even through the process of probate, this wealth will be eroded through inflation.”

Mr Simpson added inheritance tax could be a nasty shock for those who were not aware of their limits and the fees their loved ones might incur on wealth that was being passed down to family and friends.

However, Martin Bamford, managing director at Informed Choice, thought it would be irresponsible to push a client who didn’t have sufficient appetite, capacity or need for risk into invested assets when they were happy sitting on a cash reserve.

He said: “It’s safe to say that cash is king, especially in later life. While inflation will erode the buying power of cash over time, no other asset provides such certainty and comfort.”