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How to have multi-generational money conversations

How to have multi-generational money conversations

December 27, 2022

People hate talking about money. It ranks with marital discord, mental health, religion, and politics on the list of topics you don’t bring up at the dinner table.

These conversations can get even more awkward when discussing finances with your kids—whether they are elementary schoolers or parents themselves.

We know this. It’s not a simple conversation to have.

We also know that you want your money to simplify and empower your life, and communicating your financial goals with the people they affect is a part of this equation.

Not communicating can…

  • Keep your young adult children from learning important money management lessons.
  • Make it harder for your adult children to handle your estate when that time comes.
  • Cause confusion and/or conflict among your beneficiaries.

Having a “money talk” shouldn’t be a one-time conversation. Successful wealth transfers—and more importantly, financial values transfers—are years in the making.

When you start to talk about money with your kids you are laying the foundation for a seamless transition of wealth and values. Each time you broach the subject you make the next time a little easier.

You can start talking to your kids about money as early as preschool, but the specific estate planning conversations start in your kids’ early adulthood—and can happen regularly throughout the years. Think a short conversation every now and again. It doesn’t need to be a three-hour-long discussion.

Talking about money and legacy doesn’t have to be a massive ordeal; instead, focus on the consistency of your conversations and the intentionality of your messages, and you can make a big impact on your family’s future.

In this article, we will share a few topics you may consider including in these conversations.

Topic #1: Financial objectives and goals

Studies have shown that 70% of family wealth is lost by the end of the second generation and 90% by the end of the third.1

Why?

Most people who have established financial success have been extremely intentional about their money and the goals they have related to it. Often, it takes a lifetime to discern exactly what those goals are and develop the behaviors it takes to uphold them. 

While you had a lifetime, your beneficiaries may need to make decisions within months of your passing.

You can set them up for success by sharing financial goals with them, as well as the stories and reasoning that led you to those conclusions. 

You can never guarantee your kids will hold those same values, but over time, you can establish expectations and develop understanding even if you differ in how you handle your money.

Topic #2: Your current financial situation

There really is no right or wrong way to handle this discussion. 

While you don’t need to share precise numbers, sharing general information about your situation can help your kids understand where you’re at financially. 

Topic #3: Who will oversee your finances when you are unable to do so

Many families disagree on the roles children will play as parents age, in terms of who will be their caregiver, who will be the executor of the estate, and who will manage the finances. Clarifying these roles can help alleviate uncertainty for the entire family, especially the family member who will be the executor, so they aren’t surprised by the responsibility.

Topic #4: How your assets will be split

This can be a good time to manage expectations. While it may be the hardest topic to discuss, if your assets are not going to be evenly split, it may be helpful for your kids to understand why.


In a recent study, respondents most often associated with estate planning with words such as smart, important, and responsible.

Unfortunately, the same study showed that nearly one-third of people said coordinating with family was the most difficult part of the estate planning process.3

If you’re worried about your ability to facilitate these conversations, remember your financial planner can be an advocate. It is our job to support your decisions and make your goals a reality, especially when it comes to passing down wealth and values to the next generation.

If you’re nervous about talking to your kids about estate planning, we are here to help.

1. DiSalvo, S. (2021, October 1). 5 huge lies about generational wealth. Yahoo! 

2.The 2022 State of Estate Planning Report. Wealth.