Is the trillion-dollar wealth transfer real?

publication date: Mar 26, 2012

Canadians’ expectations for inheritance may fall short – especially if those over 60 spend it first. That’s the conclusion from the latest research by Investors Group, conducted in January of this year.

Projecting from its survey of 1,002 adults, the company says 53% of Canadians anticipate an inheritance, and of those who believe they know the size, 57% expect the value will be over $100,000. But the estimated $1 trillion transfer of wealth predicted over the next 20 years may not live up to its billing.

Just one in five inherit over $100,000

While 47% of Canadians who have already received an inheritance prefer not to disclose the size, those who indicated the amount received an average of $57,000. Nearly one in five (18%) who have already inherited said they received $100,000 or more while one-quarter (26%) received less than $5,000.

Among Canadians aged 60 or more, 45% are concerned they will need their savings to fund their retirement and won’t have money left to give to their survivors. Only one-quarter are willing to make personal sacrifices to ensure an inheritance for their family.

Expectations decrease with age

Age affects inheritance hopes. Eighty percent of Gen Y Canadians (aged 18-29 years) expect an inheritance but only 62% of Gen X Canadians (aged 30-44 years) and 48% of the Boomer generation (Canadians aged 45-64 years) assume they’ll be getting an inheritance.

Having “the talk”

The poll reveals that many families are not taking the time to discuss or deal with inheritance issues. Four in ten Canadians whose parents have a will say they have not discussed the terms of the will with their parents while 61% of Canadians with deceased parents who had a will admit they never had “the talk.”

Those who have discussed will and estate details with family members indicate it was not a difficult conversation. Three in ten (31%) said the discussion was very easy, while only three per cent said they found it very difficult.

Survey methodology

The poll was conducted online within Canada between January 12 and January 25, 2012, among 1,002 adults aged 18 and over. Data were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Decima surveys. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Decima panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

For further information, Ron Arnst, Investors Group, (204-956-3364,; Teresa Pagnutti or Lisa Mills, Environics Communications, 416-969-2721/ 416-969-2831, or; more information here.


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