family running on beach

When thinking about life in general, one of the most amazing aspects is that no two lives are ever the same. Each individual’s life is a unique combination of experiences, endeavours, successes, failures, personal hopes, and family and friends. As individuals progress through various life stages, there may be any number of changes or experiences that add layers and complexity to their personal situation and that may significantly impact future goals and intentions.

For many Canadians, events such as marriage, home ownership, the birth of children or grandchildren, changes in profession, separation or divorce, health issues or pending retirement stand out as some of the top instances where perspectives, objectives or wishes may shift. And while many of these events and experiences often act as reminders about the importance of planning for the future from a personal and family standpoint, the reality is that many still avoid or overlook estate-related decisions. There are a range of statistics that paint a clear picture of the generally low levels of success families have when it comes to intergenerational wealth transfer. According to research by The Williams Group that took place over a 20-year period, it was found that among the families who were part of the study, only approximately 30 percent of estate and wealth transfers were successful.1 Pair this with the fact that more than half of Canadians don’t have a signed Will in place, and almost three-quarters don’t have an up-to-date Will,2 and it’s fairly evident the majority of individuals are not giving this area of planning the attention and forethought it requires.

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Within this report, we discuss some of the main concerns and situations many Canadians face as part of estate planning. These include discussions around timing for passing down wealth, methods and approaches, promoting equality in planning, and who should be informed and to what extent. We also examine the paramount role of communication and how it is strongly connected to the ultimate success of intergenerational wealth transfer.