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Family Financial Conversations


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


How to have key family discussions

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: 

Make family meetings on retirement issues easier

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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  1. Frankly speaking, I have never read such an informative blog post on family income planning in my life. That’s awesome. It gives a 360 degree view of the entire plan. The best thing I liked here is the section called ‘What’s at Stake’. That’s simply superb. I’ve also found out lately that all my family members believe from the core of their hearts that financial conversation are a must. But in the last 5 years we haven’t got time to talk on the issue. I believe we are in the 64 per cent bracket. Thanks for the blog anyway.

    • Roger Wohlner says

      Maurice thanks for your comment. These conversations are not always easy but they needed in most families. Good luck on moving this forward.

  2. I always advise parents to get e.g. Kiyosaki’s “Poor dad -rich dad” and the monopoly-like game that goes with it. Children need to understand financial matters early. and while they used to become “paper boy” in times long since gone and have to buy papers and then sell them to make a profit, I have more than once heard a child say to their parents: why don’t you go to that machine and get more money?

  3. This was a very thorough article with wonderful visuals. Thank you for posting this. Seeing the steps laid out makes it sound very simple to have these conversations. I will have to start working on making our finances more of an open conversation with my family members.

    • Roger Wohlner says

      Michelle thanks for the comment and glad you found the post useful. I really appreciate Fidelity allowing me to use their visuals, they did a nice job creating them.


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