Reading time: 4 minutes

How to talk about property inheritance - without the awkwardness

Tackling the topic of inheritance can be tricky. Not sure where to start with it all? Just ask Zoopla.

Words by: Ellie Isaac

Senior Editor

With the cost-of-living crisis biting, many of us are planning ahead when it comes to our finances.

And it’s only natural that some Brits are curious about the prospect of inheriting their parents’ home.

Half of the respondents in our recent survey said they’d checked the value of their parents’ home, while a third said it was to see if it could help them towards financial security in the future.

If you want an idea of what you could inherit from your folks’ place, use our inheritance calculator to get a ballpark figure.

There are lots of factors that can impact how much you inherit from a property. Our calculator doesn’t take them all into account, so it’s always worth getting independent financial advice.

Why is it worth talking about property inheritance?

In our survey, the majority said they’d never spoken to their parents about how much they’ll inherit.

They reckon it’s none of their business or just too awkward to bring up.

And it seems awkwardness can turn into arguments, with some saying that inheritance has caused rifts in their family.

“But it’s definitely worth thinking about what you may, one day, inherit”, says Daniel Copley, Consumer Expert at Zoopla.

“Whilst some may think it’s a little cheeky to check the value of your parents’ home, it can be quite useful to have an idea of what may be coming your way in future.

“It can help you plan financially for the long-term, especially with regards to property decisions.”

In our survey, many Brits said they’re thinking about how they could use their inheritance to move house, improve their home or pay off their mortgage.

Track your home's value

  • See how your estimate is changing every month

  • Check how your local area’s performing

  • Explore what’s on the market and what’s sold near you

  • Find out what local agents think you could sell for

How to start talking about property inheritance

“Organising the practical things after the death of a loved one can be very difficult,” says Dan.

“The best advice is to have an open and honest conversation with your parents, long before you need to.

“The more you know, the smoother it will be to deal with when the time comes. Whether that’s understanding their wishes or getting to grips with things like inheritance tax.”

Here are our tips for talking about inheritance with your family.

1. Set your expectations

When it comes to inheritance, there are lots of complex details to consider - and there might be different opinions in the family.

It’s often unlikely to reach a conclusion or all be in agreement straight away.

So set your expectations from the off. This chat may be the first of several about inheritance, and that’s often the best way.

It gives your parents time to think about what they really want, and you’ll be able to get used to their ideas and start planning for the future.

2. Choose the right moment

If you’re ready to have the first conversation, make sure it’s the right time for an open and transparent chat.

You want everyone to be relaxed and comfortable, so don’t bring it up if you’re in a rush or your parents seem busy or preoccupied.

Make it clear that you’re hoping to get an idea of their plans, and that talking about inheritance and estate planning will help make sure you’re all on the same page.

Selling a home after someone has died

3. Put your loved ones’ wishes first

When you’re talking about inheritance with your parents, remember that their wishes come first.

It’s their right to choose what to do with their money and home.

So even if you don’t love what you hear, stay supportive, listen to their perspective and put yourself in their shoes.

And reassure them that you’ll honour their wishes when they’re no longer with you.

The last thing you want is for something like this to come between you.

4. Think about the ‘soon’ - not just the ‘later’

While you’re on the topic of money, it’s worth asking your parents how they plan to support themselves in the future.

They may need to factor in paying for their retirement, rising living costs or the prospect of care expenses.

Downsizing and releasing equity are common ways for people to set themselves up for later life, and both could affect how much you inherit from their property.

Your parents’ wellbeing and quality of life should always be the number one priority, regardless of the impact on your inheritance.

Guide to releasing equity from your home

5. Give everyone time to reflect

Talking about inheritance can take its emotional toll, so don’t push the subject if the conversation has gone as far as it can right now.

Instead, draw the chat to a close on a good note and give everyone the time and space to reflect.

This gives your parents the chance to mull over what they’d like to do with their money and home, which can take some time to figure out.

If it feels right, you could suggest catching up in a few weeks or months to chat about any progress or decisions since you first talked.

Can I give my home to my children?

6. Get impartial financial advice

It’s important that your parents get financial advice before making any promises about their inheritance or property.

A financial advisor can help them decide the best way to do things and they’ll need to write a will to make it all legally binding.

If they’re planning to leave their home in their will, the financial advisor will be able to set out the probate process and tax implications.

What are the inheritance tax rules for property?

They’ll also be able to explain what happens if one of them dies first, depending on whether they’re married or not.

What happens to our home if my partner dies?

Thinking of selling?

Get the ball rolling with an in-person valuation of your home. It’s free and there’s no obligation to sell if you change your mind.

We try to make sure that the information here is accurate at the time of publishing. But the property market moves fast and some information may now be out of date. Zoopla Property Group accepts no responsibility or liability for any decisions you make based on the information provided.