A lot of Metro Vancouver millennials are in for a big reality check when it comes to the size of their inheritances, according to a new report.

Vancity credit union commissioned a survey of adult children and retirement-aged parents in the region, and found a stunning divide in inheritance expectations.

While 40 per cent of children think they’re getting more than $300,000, just 12 per cent of parents actually anticipate leaving that much behind.

“I have no idea why kids are expecting that amount, which is a huge amount,” said Vancity investment advisor Fred Chalut.

“There’s a gap between what children are expecting and what parents are actually expecting to leave behind.”

The report, titled Great Expectations: wealth transfer between generations in British Columbia, found the actual average inheritance in the province was $137,800 in 2012. The median was just $50,200, however, which suggests the bulk of inheritances were below $100,000.

Chalut said one reason for the discrepancy in expectations between parents and kids could be that parents are increasingly using their savings to help their kids while they’re alive – by chipping in on a down payment for a home, for instance.

Whatever is causing the confusion, Vancity said parents and children should talk openly about the issue to clear things up.

“We need to talk about it more to bring down those expectations,” Chalut said. “It comes down to communication.”

Chalut acknowledged the conversation can be difficult for parents to have, but said it’s better than leaving their kids in the dark.

Vancity also recommends that millennials start working on their own financial plan as soon as possible, and avoid counting on inheritances while preparing for retirement.

“Don’t expect money that might or might not be there,” Chalut said. “If it is there, it’s a bonus.”

Vancity’s survey was conducted online from Jan. 25 to Feb. 5 by Insights West, and included two groups: one made up of 401 adults between 18 and 34 years old who have at least one senior-aged parent, and another made up of 403 adults who are older than 65 and have at least one child.

Surveys of that size have a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.