Forget working and saving for retirement. Many working-age people in the U.S. and worldwide are hoping to live off an inheritance after leaving the workforce, according to a global study from HSBC.

Globally, nearly three in four (72%) of those expecting an inheritance say they plan to use it to finance their retirement to some extent, and 10% think it will fund their retirement entirely. In the United States, more than three in four (76%) believe it will finance either all (10%) or part (66%) of their retirement.

The likelihood of getting an inheritance varies by country. People in developing countries, for example, have a greater chance of receiving an inheritance than people in the United States and most other developed countries, according to the study. Most retirees in India (86%), Mexico (84%), Malaysia (78%) and Brazil (71%) expect to leave their family members an inheritance, whereas in the United States just over half (56%) plan to do so.

The inheritance amounts, however, are more modest in developing countries, ranging from an average of $39,000 in Malaysia to $132,000 in Brazil. In the United States, expected inheritances average $177,000.

Among developed countries, the United States is a laggard, falling behind Singapore and Taiwan, where 70% of retirees expect to leave inheritances of $371,000 and $191,000, respectively. Australians were the most generous, with 69% of retirees planning to leave their heirs $502,000. 

Worldwide, almost seven in 10 retirees (69%) expect to leave an average of $148,000 to their family members, according to the findings.

“These findings show that many Americans expect to leave an inheritance. However, it’s vital that people don’t rely on these potential windfalls to fund their retirement. Older people often face unexpected hurdles and may require the money themselves to fund other things such as medical and nursing care in later life,” Andy Ireland, head of Premier and Wealth at HSBC Bank USA, said in a statement.

The report is based on an online survey of 16,000 people in 15 countries between July 2012 and April 2013.

Register or login for access to this item and much more

All Bank Investment Consultant content is archived after seven days.

Community members receive:
  • All recent and archived articles
  • Conference offers and updates
  • A full menu of enewsletter options
  • Web seminars, white papers, ebooks

Don't have an account? Register for Free Unlimited Access