Less than a third of people expect to receive an inheritance, with those who are already relatively well off being significantly more likely to benefit, according to research by the Resolution Foundation.
While the overall value of inheritances is expected to surge in the coming years, just 32% of people have benefited or expect to benefit from an inheritance or gift in their lifetime.
Wealthier and higher-income families are twice as likely as the poorest fifth of the population to be recipients. Half (50%) of the richest fifth of earners are likely to receive a significant transfer of wealth, compared with a quarter (25%) of the poorest fifth, the Foundation said.
More than 8,700 people across the UK took part in the survey, which was funded by the Family Building Society.
Transfers of wealth can have a significant impact on recipients’ lives. A third of gifts (33%) are given to help with a property purchase, with 6% of homeowners saying they would have been unable to purchase a property without the extra money, the Foundation said.
Passing wealth down the generations also has an impact on gift givers, with 16% saying they saved more in order to pass wealth down, and 9% having downsized their own home or expecting to do so in the future.
Uncertainty about costs in retirement means older relatives will pass on wealth too late to help many in the younger generations. The typical age at which 20 to 35-year-olds are projected to receive an inheritance is 61, the Foundation said.
Jack Leslie, senior economist at the Resolution Foundation, said: “With the highest-income families twice as likely to be recipients as the lowest, the benefits are far from evenly distributed.
“With many givers also changing their behavior in order to facilitate those transfers, the impacts of transferring wealth are far-reaching.
“A greater role for inheritances, and wealth in general, will be a central feature of 21st century Britain, shaping the lives of generations young and old.”
For more stories from where you live, visit InYourArea.