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About $1-trillion in family wealth is expected to be transferred from one generation to another over the next two decades, according to estimates.

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In what is being called the biggest inter-generational wealth transfer ever, a majority of Canadians say they expect to get an inheritance at some point in their lives.

The average inheritance in Canada is just under $100,000, according to the results of a BMO InvestorLine study unveiled Tuesday.

And 55 per cent of Canadians say they have received an inheritance, with 63 per cent believing they will get one in the future.

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About $1-trillion in family wealth is expected to be transferred from one generation to another over the next two decades, according to estimates.

In terms of what to do with the windfall, the priorities for those surveyed in the BMO InvestorLine study are:

• Invest for key life events: 91 per cent

• Debt reduction: 79 per cent

• Travel: 78 per cent

• Buying things that are needed: 78 per cent

• Help other family members or friends with key life events: 75 per cent

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• Donate to charitable causes: 63 per cent

"Canadians' financial priorities and situations differ depending on their unique needs and goals," Julie Barker-Merz, president of BMO InvestorLine, said.

"While it can be exciting to receive an inheritance, it's critical that you look to the future and make sure you're investing at least a portion of it. Inheritances can act as a leg up for those who may not otherwise have the cash flow to put into investments."

The province with the highest average inheritance is British Columbia, at $120,339.71.

Next comes Ontario at $113,509.10, followed by Quebec at $105,963.25.

The Atlantic provinces are the lowest at $31,942.26, then the Prairies at $49,780.45. Alberta's average is $62.394.86.

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The national average is $96.377.78.

The survey was conducted by Pollara between June 20 and June 23; the online sample consisted of 1,003 adult Canadians. The margin of error for a probability sample of this size is plus or minus 3.1 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

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