Canadians are doing insufficient planning for leaving their wealth to the next generation

More than half of Canadians plan to leave an inheritance but have not discussed the topic with their family or a financial advisor

Toronto, ON (July 14, 2015) – A recent CIBC poll finds that over half of Canadians (51 per cent) expect to leave assets upon their death, but when it comes to having conversations about transferring their wealth, many say they have not discussed it with their family or a financial advisor.

Key findings of the poll include:

  • 51 per cent of Canadians expect to transfer wealth, but almost half (47 per cent) have not discussed the inheritance with the recipients
  • 79 per cent have not discussed the financial and tax implications of an inheritance with a financial advisor

Lack of communication about wealth transfer creating gap between generations

“Without the right amount of communication, Canadians run the risk of the next generation not being prepared to manage their inheritance”, says Sarah Widmeyer, Managing Director and Head of Wealth Advisory Services, CIBC. “To help bridge the gap, families need to become comfortable having conversations about wealth transfer.”

“There is a clear disconnect between generations when it comes to wealth transfer, and this can have a lasting impact on family legacies,” she says. “Without open, honest communication, family’s risk significant conflict, especially when parents’ wishes don’t align with their children’s.”

Key areas where there may be conflict within families who don’t communicate about wealth transfer:

  • Transfer of the family cottage: Parents may expect the cottage to be used for many generations, but their children may feel differently. This could result in lost planning opportunities for the property while the parents are alive.
  • Inheritance: Parents who want to protect their wealth for their children or grandchildren through the use of trusts may be concerned that their children could perceive it as not trusting their judgement.
  • Charitable gifting: Parents may look to reduce taxes at death through charitable gifting, but their children may not agree with or understand the benefits.
  • Probate: Parents may want to make children joint on investment or bank accounts to avoid probate, but may not realize it could potentially cause conflict among the children and limits estate planning strategies that could be leveraged.

Successful transfer of wealth threatened by insufficient planning

While discussions between generations are lacking, so is communication with financial and other professional advisors, including lawyers and accountants.

“While many estate planning strategies may help you achieve your objectives, all successful plans start with open conversations between spouses, professional advisors and, ultimately, family members to provide clarity and a vision for your legacy,” says Lana Robinson, Executive Director, CIBC Wealth Advisory Services. “It is key to work with an advisor who can objectively help you understand what strategies are best for you, and can also provide advice on how and when to communicate the plan to your family.”

For those leaving an inheritance, Ms. Robinson stresses the importance of diligent estate planning with a team of professional advisors. “There can be significant complications for loved ones if arrangements for a wealth transfer are not properly managed,” she says. “Open communication with your advisors is critical. Strategies viewed in isolation, without the full picture of your situation, could cause unintended consequences.”

The following steps can help you start to develop a wealth transfer plan:

  • Discuss with your spouse or partner how you want your wealth to benefit the people you care about. What are your values? What are your goals? Are there areas where you disagree?
  • Think about who in your life may require special financial considerations, such as someone with a disability.
  • Complete an inventory of your estate, itemizing assets such as your house, cottage, car, investments, and insurance.
  • Initiate conversations about your intentions with your professional advisors to develop a plan.
  • Communicate your plans to your family and engage their feedback. Ensure your family has been introduced to your advisory team before difficult times arise.

Key Poll Findings

Percentage of Canadians expecting to leave assets to someone upon their death:

Yes 51%
No 16%
Undecided/Don’t know 33%

Percentage of Canadians who have discussed the financial and tax implications of an inheritance with a financial advisor:

Yes 18%
No 79%
Don’t know 3%

Survey Methodology

From May 19 to May 20, 2015, an online survey was conducted among 1,504 randomly selected Canadian adults who are Angus Reid Forum panelists. The margin of error – which measures sampling variability – is +/- 2.53 per cent, 19 times out of 20. The results have been statistically weighted according to education, age, gender and region (and in Quebec language) Census data to ensure a sample representative of the entire adult population of Canada. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.

About CIBC

CIBC (TSX:CM)(NYSE:CM) is a leading Canadian-based global financial institution with 11 million personal banking and business clients. Through our three major business units – Retail and Business Banking, Wealth Management and Wholesale Banking – CIBC offers a full range of products and services through its comprehensive electronic banking network, branches and offices across Canada with offices in the United States and around the world. You can find other news releases and information about CIBC on our corporate website at

SOURCE: Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce