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Half of over 50s want to leave an inheritance when they’re gone

16th May 2024

5 min read


  • 49% of over 50s – around 12.7 million people – want to leave an inheritance when they’re gone
  • And almost 3 million are prepared to cut back on their own retirement to leave a financial legacy
  • But with 73% worrying about rising costs and 37% concerned they’ll run out of money in retirement, leaving cash behind can be difficult
  • SunLife’s Guaranteed Inheritance Plan is a simple way to guarantee your family a significant cash gift – from £5,000 to £50,000

Half (49%) of people over 50 say they want to be able to leave their loved ones some inheritance when they're gone, according to data from SunLife, and are prepared to sacrifice their own financial stability to do so.

SunLife’s study of 2,000 people aged 50 and over found that 6.9 million (51%) women and 5.8 million (47%) of men want to be able to leave a financial legacy behind after they are gone.

A further 11% – 2.8 million people – said that they want to ensure they save enough to leave an inheritance to their family, even if it means cutting back their spending in retirement.

Mark Screeton, CEO at SunLife, said:

“Our Life Well Spent report shows that over 50s are driven by family – 87% list family as the thing that makes them the happiest. And 23% have already given substantial cash gifts to loved ones, so it’s understandable that they would want to leave money behind too.

“But with costs rising, 27% of over 50s relying on the state pension alone, and 37% worried they’ll run out of money before they die, it can be difficult for the older generation to factor in setting aside an inheritance without making huge sacrifices in terms of their own financial wellbeing.”

How the Guaranteed Inheritance Plan works

SunLife's Guaranteed Inheritance Plan can offer a solution. Depending on your age and health, you can leave loved ones a significant cash gift of between £5,000 and £50,000.

The Guaranteed Inheritance Plan is not a typical over 50s plan, because it’s underwritten. This means applicants need to answer a few questions to check that they are in fairly good health before being accepted.

This can allow an insurer to offer a bigger payout than a ‘guaranteed acceptance’ plan. It's available for those in good health aged between 49 and 75. And the younger you are when you start your plan, the bigger your payout.

Mark adds: “As long as the premiums have been paid and the health questions have been answered accurately, a payout is guaranteed. And it’s fast, as it doesn’t need to go through probate if you name your beneficiaries when you apply. Loved ones can then spend the money however they like. Maybe that's to cover funeral costs, put a deposit on their first home, keep as a nest egg, or something else entirely.”

Read ‘What is the Guaranteed Inheritance Plan?’ to find out more.

Important to know

  • Premiums are payable for life. If you stop paying your premiums your insurance will end and you won’t get anything back.
  • Depending on how long you live, you could pay more in premiums than the cash sum paid out.
  • Because the cash sum is fixed, inflation will reduce its buying power over time.
  • Cover begins immediately, although in the first year, suicide or death from self-inflicted injury are excluded.
  • You must answer all the application questions accurately and completely in order to get the guaranteed payout.
  • Acceptance and the premium for any given payout is dependent on your age, lifestyle and medical history.
  • This product does not provide cover for potential inheritance tax liability. If you do not name a beneficiary(s) when taking out your plan, the sum assured may be paid to your estate and could be subject to inheritance tax.
  • Policy Conditions apply

About the Life Well Spent report 2023

To better understand the relationship between happiness and major spending decisions, in 2023 SunLife asked over 2,000 people over 50 to share:

  • What big purchases they’ve made in later life
  • The big purchases they’d like to make if money was no object
  • How their spending has affected their happiness

The report covers holidays, home improvements, family, debts, other big purchases and equity release. With the cost of living on everyone’s minds, the findings are a window into the lives, concerns and dreams of people over 50.

ONS Population Data (released March 2024)( opens in a new tab)– there are 26,028,478 over 50s in the UK, 13,668,658 women over 50 and 12,359,820 men over 50.

SunLife Life Well Spent report – study of 2,000 UK adults over 50, found that 49% want to leave an inheritance (51% women and 47% men) and 11% (12% women, 10% men) would sacrifice their own retirement to do so. (49% of 26,028,478 is 12,753,954; 51% of 13,668,658 is 6,971,016; 47% of 12,359,820 is 5,809,115; 11% of 26,028,478 is 2,863,132; 12% of 13,668,658 is 1,640,239; 10% of 12,359,820 is 1,235,982.)

About SunLife

SunLife has been around since 1810, making it one of the oldest financial services companies in the UK. It offers products such as over 50s life insurance and equity release.

SunLife is a part of Phoenix Group( opens in a new tab), the UK’s largest long-term savings and retirement business.

SunLife was the first company in the UK to offer life assurance without a medical, and has for many years been the UK’s most popular over 50s life insurance provider (Source: Association of British Insurers). It is also author of one of the longest-running and most highly-regarded reports into funeral costs – the Cost of Dying report.

SunLife also works with leading finance journalists and industry experts to offer everyone over 50 free tools and guides to help with managing their money, planning a funeral and making the most of life after 50.

The thoughts and opinions expressed in the page are those of the authors, intended to be informative, and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SunLife. See our Terms of Use for more info.