This article appears as part of the Money HQ newsletter.

Sixty years old is the new middle age.

We’re all living longer, and by 2034, more than one million families may have multiple generations in retirement simultaneously – a 32% increase on today’s figure of 813,000.

A recent survey into the phenomenon, commissioned by SJP, suggests that this is the tip of the iceberg. In five years’ time, the number of multi-retiree families is set to rise by 150,000, topping out by 2044 – by which time there may be as many as 1.4 million in the UK population.

That’s a jump of over 70% in less than a generation, much higher than the last projection in 2018.

Are you ready to be a multi-retiree family?

The unprecedented leap in numbers has taken many by surprise and left them feeling underprepared.

“Stop someone in the street,” says Claire Trott, SJP’s Divisional Director of Retirement & Holistic Planning “and ask them how many generations of their family are retired, semi-retired or coming up to retirement, and you’ll find most people haven’t even stopped to think about it, let alone consider the potential implications for the family’s wealth and assets.”

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Families might have two generations already retired, but a third generation still at home and financially dependent. “We see now, people are starting families later,” says Claire. “There could be a thirty-five-year gap between generations, not twenty-five, with financial repercussions for the whole family. There could be two generations in retirements with the youngest still also needing support as they are yet to fly the nest."

Five questions to ask yourself if you're a multi-retiree family

1. Should an inheritance skip a generation, and if so, is the family in agreement on who should get what, and when?

2. Has the family as a whole discussed the possibility of long-term care for more than one generation – who would help out, and how would costs be covered? Social care is something few people save for, but most of us are likely to need.

3. If you’re a blended family with several generations already in retirement, have you thought about how to pass money on to grandchildren from earlier relationships, fairly and tax efficiently? Have existing Wills or Death in Service benefits been updated to reflect these wishes?

4. Do adult family members have Powers of Attorney in place? Most people don’t think about putting this simple financial safeguard in place until they’re retired, but anyone may need a Power of Attorney at any age, even if it’s only to cover a temporary period of incapacity.

5. Are your finances set to be as tax efficient as they can be? The more you use all your allowances, the less tax you may pay – and the longer your money will last.

(Image: Derek McArthur)

Why we’re waiting longer for inheritances

It’s not just NHS waiting lists that are getting longer. Longer lifespans mean people are inheriting later, and, crucially, that many inheritances are shrinking, as retirement income needs to stretch for longer.

Family wealth and financial wellbeing often pivot around inheritances. They can be life-changing sums of money, enabling families to pay off a mortgage, or send children to university. However, longer lifespans mean there’s less family money for the next generation to inherit.

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“You’re more likely to inherit in your sixties now,’ says Tony Clark, Senior Propositions Manager at SJP. “By that age, you may be mortgage-free, or even retired yourself.“

“So, the question is, do you really need the money? Would it be better spent helping younger family members who are struggling with mortgage payments, or paying nursery or school fees? Or could it help elderly relatives shoulder the huge cost burden of long-term care?“

“The right thing to do might be to skip a generation and redirect the money to where it can do most good.”

How financial advisers can help

Once they start talking, Tony says, most families can see the solutions themselves.

“Seeing where the money’s needed in the family is usually quite straightforward. It’s putting that into practice that can become really complex, really quickly. That’s where financial advisers can help. There’s no such thing as a stupid question – so never be afraid to ask the question or ask for more clarity.”

“Once everyone’s in agreement on the best use of total family assets, an adviser can help create a practical, tax efficient action plan." Because, as Claire succinctly puts it, the less tax the family pays, the longer the money will last.