Three-quarters of adults say they have never discussed what they stand to inherit financially with their parents, research from Investec Wealth & Investment (IW&I) has revealed.
When asked why, almost half (48%) were concerned they would appear money-grabbing and think their parents would be upset if they raised it, while 46% did not want to think about their parents passing away.
Nick Gartland, senior financial planning director at IW&I, said: "It's surprising how common it still is for parents and children to treat inheritance as a taboo subject.
"Clearly it's a sensitive area, and by raising it children don't want to be seen by their parents as wishing them away.
"Parents should realise that in most cases it's in their children's interests to receive some guidance around their inheritance plans, preferably with enough notice to help the family as a whole to plan accordingly."
A certain amount of wealth can be left free of inheritance tax – the 'nil-rate band', which is currently £325,000 per person. After that, 40% tax is payable, unless you leave 10% or more of your net estate to charity, when a reduced rate of 36% will apply under a new rule introduced in April.
A surviving spouse can also claim the unused proportion of their late husband or wife's nil-rate band. The same applies to civil partners.
Some people get a surprise when they add up the value of their home, their savings, their pensions and so on.
Even if you and your spouse's assets add up to less than £650,000, it is still a good idea to discuss matters with your children
If you find your estate will be liable to inheritance tax, it is better to try and give money away while you are still alive.
Every year you can make gifts of up to £3000 free of tax, and if you miss one year you can make up for it the next year. You can also make as many gifts of £250 per year to different individuals as you want.
Gifts out of income are also allowed as long as they don't leave you short of money.
However, Gordon Wilson, of Carbon Financial Partners in Edinburgh, said people should not get hung up on the £3000 allowance.
He said: "It is not a ceiling. In fact, you can give away as much as you like and there is a good chance you won't have to pay tax if you live at least seven years. "
Giving away money while you are alive also means you get the pleasure of seeing how the money is benefiting the recipients.
Gregor Johnston, director of Glasgow-based independent financial advisers Fitzallan, said: "I think more parents now are giving their children money for a deposit on their first home or even enough to buy a property outright and are then relaxed about not over-engineering the remainder of their estate in order to avoid inheritance tax."
It is also worth a parent considering whether children would prefer to inherit cash or investment holdings.
Shares and investment funds can be transferred into a beneficiaries name but they may prefer the cash.
Isas cannot be passed to someone else on death but the holdings can be transferred.
However, tax-free National Savings & Investment Certificates can be transferred to beneficiaries.
Finally, the Unclaimed Assets Register lists millions of pounds of forgotten shares and savings, which can be costly to track down.
If they exist in your family, it is better to uncover them in good time.