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By Josh Manifold | Principal | Advisor

Our culture has done a remarkable job of forming taboos around certain combinations. Family is often one of the ingredients, especially when mixed with topics like politics or money. If this is true of your family, the thought of initiating conversations with parents, in-laws, or your adult children might be daunting. Where do you even start?

Before we suggest a few important conversations that are worth pursuing, let’s acknowledge the inverse scenarios.

In our work, we have seen plenty of families who successfully avoided important financial conversations, only to wish they hadn’t when circumstances changed. Aging parents. Unexpected passings. The slow, seismic drift of the next generation away from the values and legacy that has shaped you. We never want to be fearmongers, but consistently, these are often the alternatives to intentional conversations.

So, to draw your attention to more productive conversations, these are the most important topics we encourage our clients to pursue amongst your family. If you would like guidance on approaching these conversations, we’re here to help provide counsel.

Conversations with Aging Parents

The older our parents get, the more involved we get in their financial lives. If you’re looking for proactive conversations, here are a few key topics to hit:

  1. Independence: Do they have enough assets and an appropriate plan to remain financially independent?
  2. Estate Documents: Are they completed and updated? Do we know who they worked with that we can collaborate with as needed?
  3. Living Situation: Can they stay in their current home? Do we need to look at waiting lists for retirement homes?

Conversations with Adult Children

Helping our children successfully launch into adulthood is a significant part of financial planning. What are the financial topics you should consider having?

  1. Estate Planning: Your kids don’t necessarily need to know a specific dollar amount, but how have you structured your estate documents? What values inform your decisions?
  2. Generational Guidance: What financial discipline or habits should they be developing in each stage of life? How or when are you sharing those?
  3. Launch Support: What can you do to help provide stability and increase opportunity for your children as they launch? (without stunting their discipline)

Conversations with Your Spouse

Financial conversations might be more frequent in this context, but it’s important that they are productive. We encourage asking a few questions to bring alignment between you and your spouse.

  1. Spending: Are we aligned on how much we are spending? Are we aligned on the purchase we’re making?
  2. Shared Vision: Have we articulated a shared picture of the future? Do our shared values and vision inform our individual decisions?