Family financial conversations dealing with retirement, estate planning, elder care issues and other important financial matters between parents and adult children can be difficult at best. A recent article by Fidelity highlighted some of the key issues involved.
According to Fidelity:
“In life and money, timing is often everything. And that’s particularly true when it comes to sensitive family discussions about retirement security, eldercare, and estate planning.
According to Fidelity’s latest Intra-Family Generational Finance study,1 three-fourths of parents and their adult children agree it’s important to have frank conversations on such topics, but almost two-thirds (64%) can’t agree on when. While parents would prefer to wait until after retirement, their children want the conversations to take place well before their parents retire or experience health issues.”
“These discussions aren’t always easy, but there can be real emotional and financial consequences when they don’t happen or lack sufficient depth,” says John Sweeney, executive vice president of retirement and investing strategies at Fidelity. “It’s absolutely critical that families come together to sort through important matters related to such things as retirement preparedness, caregiving responsibilities, estate planning, and the tax implications of an inheritance.”
Suggestions for successful family financial conversations
While these steps suggested in the Fidelity piece are no guarantee of a successful dialog, I think you will agree these steps offer a solid framework for these often difficult conversations.
PREP for family financial conversations
The Fidelity piece offered this outline (their PREP plan) to break the ice and get these family meetings going:
While every family and every family’s situation is different, this is a good framework from which to start.
What’s at stake?
These conversations can be difficult because there is a lot at stake.
- How will your parents provide for their retirement?
- Where will the money come from in the event of a Long-Term Care situation?
- Who will take over your parent’s financial affairs in the event they become unable to do so?
- What are your parent’s wishes in terms of a myriad of issues including disposition of their assets upon their death, burial, staying in their home, etc.?
Besides these issues a lack of communication and planning can be costly to the family in terms of taxes and other issues in terms of transferring your parent’s wealth to the next generation. While this might sound like it only pertains to the very wealthy this is not the case.
At the end of the day what is really at stake is the opportunity for parents to communicate their financial wishes to their adult children and for the children to help their parents make these desires come true.
There is nothing easy about discussing these issues and having these family financial conversations. But any difficulties that might exist will be dwarfed by the potential guilt and regret felt by both parents and children later on if this dialog does not occur.
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