VICTORIA BISCHOFF: Inheritances are not a divine right, nor a parents’ duty and they can do more harm than good
If my mum were alive today, I would tell her to spend every penny of her savings on herself.
As a single mother, she sacrificed an enormous amount to ensure my sister and I never went without growing up.
So had she reached retirement age, I would have enjoyed encouraging her to spoil herself for a change.
Final gesture: But it does no one any good to go through life without purpose, just waiting to inherit wealth
Yet I am in no doubt that despite my best efforts, my selfless mother would still have wanted to leave us a modest legacy to ensure we were looked after when she was gone. Because, money aside, an inheritance is often just a final gesture of love.
And that’s why I found James Bond actor Daniel Craig’s recent remarks that inheritance is ‘quite distasteful’ rather barbed.
Yet as a member of the uber-rich, with a £117 million fortune in the bank, he is making an important point.
All children, particularly those from wealthy families, should be encouraged to stand on their own two feet — my own mum ushered me into town to get a Saturday job as soon as I was old enough.
It does no one any good to go through life without purpose, just waiting to inherit wealth.
Yet inherit many will, and we should be doing more to ensure the younger generations are prepared for when they do.
In the UK, more than 80 per cent of household wealth is held by the over-45s, and over the next 30 years this is set to be transferred between generations as inheritance or gifts.
Dubbed ‘the great wealth transfer’, economists predict that £327 billion will be passed on to younger people in the next decade alone.
Much of this will come from baby boomers (born between the late 1940s and early 1960s), who benefited from unprecedented house price growth and gold-plated pensions.
And in May, analysts at Barclays warned that without proper planning, we risk beneficiaries becoming ‘lottery winners’ who suddenly have access to a large amount of money without knowing what to do with it.
Older generations also need to bear in mind the risks of passing on wealth too early. Care costs can be crippling, and it is vital families keep aside enough money to ensure they are looked after in old age.
So while I do not believe inheritance is ‘distasteful’, it is not a divine right, nor a parent’s duty.
And while I’m incredibly grateful my mum left me financially secure when she died, the work ethic she instilled in me from a young age was by far her greatest gift.
Give staff love
It is thoroughly depressing to see that some people have forgotten how to behave in public over lockdown.
Reports of customers abusing retail, hospitality and transport workers have rocketed since Covid.
Restaurant staff say they are being sworn at when tables are fully booked or food is delayed, while shopworkers are having abuse hurled at them for continuing to wear a mask.
Yes, tempers are somewhat frayed after a difficult 18 months. But that is no excuse for such vile behaviour.
So I was heartened to learn that M&S has followed Morrisons’ lead and will give its staff Boxing Day off this year as a gesture of thanks for their hard work in recent months.
I remember working at Debenhams the first year it opened on Boxing Day. We were paid double-time, given a gift voucher and a free lunch.
But many years on it is now generally expected that retail staff put in a gruelling shift on one of the busiest shopping days of the year as standard.
Allowing staff to tuck into leftovers with the rest of their family is a wonderful way to reward those who have steadfastly turned up for work when many in the country have been at home.
How do you ask for the bill in a restaurant? Wave your hand? Make a scribble motion in the air? Catch the waiter’s eye and mouth the words silently?
Well, our letters editor Tony Hazell says his wife has started gesturing for the bill by tapping her Apple Watch, which can be used to make contactless payments. It’s certainly one for the modern age — but will it catch on?