I have two adult sons who have both done fairly well for themselves but have followed very different paths.
The eldest has lived in rented accommodation in London since graduating. At first he lived with a succession of house mates and then a long-term girlfriend but he is now on his own which is very expensive but at 31 he feels he needs his own place. He has a job that pays him well enough to live in London and has paid off his student loan but he has never saved beyond a few hundred for his next holiday. Recently he has become very disillusioned with his career (a para-legal job in the health services). His salary is barely creeping up, promotion prospects are poor and his pension is being down graded quite drastically. Basically he is bored, burned out and bordering on unhappy.
My youngest son has not yet ventured out of full time education after moving from a degree to an MA and then a PhD which he is just finishing. He has done some teaching work along the way but has mainly been funded via scholarships and bursaries which he has won due to hard work and excellent academic results. He actively enjoys living frugally which has helped. His friendship group is large and very supportive and he's very happy where he is.
Both my sons have a potentially life-shortening genetic illness. I mention this because it does make a difference to the decision-making process that my husband and I have just gone through. We have decided
to give/gift/pay out around half of our ISA savings to our sons now, when they need it, rather than continue to save it in case we have a "rainy day" (whatever form that might take).
As we aren't even proper "pensioners" yet we haven't really thought much about inheritance. We don't expect to end up paying any inheritance tax given that a surviving married partner also inherits their partner's unused allowance so this means that the total estate would need to be over £650,000 before any is due? Someone please correct me if this is wrong.
But in any case the timing of inheritance is something over which you have no control and doesn't fit in with anyone's plans. Why would we want to sit on cash "in case" when there is currently a valuable use for it. Waiting till we die to pass the money on to our sons makes less sense the more I think about it. We have around £70,000 in our ISAs which only form part of our retirement plan in that it would be used to provide a small amount of income (maybe about £3,000 a year) and be a care-cost buffer if we need it. In actual fact the costs of care are so astronomical that if residential care were to be needed for either of us on a long term basis, whether we had £35,000 or £70,000 would be soon become academic because it would vanish in such a short period of time. This is a scary thought but it does mean that keeping the ISA funds for this purpose doesn't make a whole lot of sense.
So we have decided to manage the money so that our sons can have around £17,500 each over the next couple of years. My eldest son can then leave his job and do a Masters in a subject he will enjoy. The change in him since we talked about this and told him of our decision is remarkable. He's full of enthusiasm and plans for the future, whereas before he seemed to be losing his naturally positive outlook on things. I defy anyone to tell me that this is the wrong thing to do.
I need to do some work on how we can do this and what would be the best way to "gift" it. I also need to bottom out which bits of our ISAs to sell and move into cash, whether to give the money as lump sum(s) or regular payments and investigate implications for taxation. In addition to the money my eldest son will hopefully be living in our studio flat for a year whilst he does the course so I also need to work around the loss of the rent for that period. Back to the spreadsheets.
In the middle of all this I'm expecting to put in my application for VR during the summer which might, or might not be accepted. Interesting times :-)