Money is a tough topic no matter the context. As a society, we typically don’t discuss how much we earn, what we’ve got in our bank accounts or how much we pay for things. So when the topic of money is coupled with the realization that we won’t live forever, we tend to shy away from discussions. If you’ve built up a legacy to leave your kids, however, you’ll be doing them a disservice if you don’t offer a heads-up on how to handle it.
Why should you have the money talk?
Some parents worry that discussing inheritance with their adult children too early in life will stunt them in their own personal growth. They believe that if their kids know about the windfall they’ll inevitably receive, they won’t work hard to make a living for themselves and will frequently fall back on Mom and Dad to pay the bills. Others think that if the numbers and assets are on the table, siblings will begin to squabble over them.
Keep in mind that although your adult children won’t have a full picture of your portfolio, they at least have an idea of your financial situation, based on how they were raised and how you spend your money. When you are ready to have the conversation, consider sharing your Journal of Wishes and Records, which will share an outline of your financial picture, and serve as a roadmap for them as they carry out your wishes.
A recent survey shows that Americans who receive an inheritance spend nearly half of it, and one in three blows through all of it within two years. If you do create transparency around finances, you foster the opportunity to help your kids make smart choices about money while they’re young and set them up to handle a large sum of money when it becomes theirs. Also, talking openly about assets as a family in a healthy way, with all children present, gives them a chance to ask questions, provide input where needed and helps to quell confusion down the road.
When should you have the money talk?
Each family’s situation is different from the next. Take into consideration your own age and health. If you’re retired or you’re having medical issues, have the talk sooner rather than later. Also, be mindful of where your children are at in life and their capacity to handle these discussions. Do they have their own jobs? Have they bought their own homes? If they’re financially independent and have started their own paths in life, then it might be time to start the conversation. Remember that you don’t have to have a talk that irons out every last detail the first time you sit down together. Just open the lines of communication and go from there.
How do you have the money talk?
Enlist the help of an estate planner beforehand. An estate planner can explain all your options, like establishing trusts with initiatives or making sure you have your beneficiaries set up correctly on your investment accounts. The more you arm yourself with information, the more prepared you will be to have this tough talk with your kids. Part of the goal here, along with eventually passing down your financial legacy, is also to share your wisdom in how you amassed it. In the long run, that will be even more valuable to them than the wealth itself.
If you are looking for smart estate planning tools, talk to your Farm Bureau agent. Your agent will have several tips to make estate planning easier, and can share advice on how to approach difficult conversations about your estate plan.