Florida Elder Law & Estate Planning Blog

Parents and Adult Children Shy Away From “The Talk”

As estate planning attorneys, we generally encourage clients to discuss their estate plans and financial plans with their adult children, even if they provide them with just a rough overview. Many clients, for many reasons, are reluctant to follow through on that recommendation. Interestingly, a recent poll shows that the reluctance is mutual!

A January 2020 survey conducted by Mass Mutual of 1,500 adults ages 25-44 reveals that 47% consider it “very important” or “extremely important” to talk with their parents about their parents’ retirement savings. Half anticipate that one of their parents will live past 90. And two thirds worry that parents who live that long will run out of money and will eventually need to rely on their children for support.

But here’s the surprise: Their worry doesn’t translate into action. Despite their concerns, 71% of Baby Boomers’ adult children report having have little or no knowledge of their parents’ finances, saying they are uncomfortable discussing the topic. Their discomfort with this topic is second only to their discomfort in talking with their parents about sex.

Another survey, reported in a February 26, 2020 Financial Advisor magazine, also reflects this communication gap. Conducted by Harris Poll for TD Trade, it surveyed 2,000 adults between the ages of 40 and 79 with a minimum of $25,000 in investable assets. The survey revealed that just 20% have shared their estate plans with their children, and only 19% have shared their incapacity plans with their children. And just 20% have told their children how to access and manage their assets should it be necessary.

Of course, avoiding the issue doesn’t eliminate the reality: Today’s increased longevity brings with it financial and legal concerns unknown to prior generations of parents and children. Parents and children must air those concerns with one another if they are to prepare effectively for the future. Having the talk” may not be the easiest conversation, but it can go a long way to giving both generations greater peace of mind.

So parents and adult children, have either of you initiated “the talk”? You need not even meet in person, which as it turns out is a plus in this era of social distancing.Time to get talking!