Four Tips for Financial Conversations With Your Adult Children

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By Bennett Whitlock, CRPC® Private Wealth Advisor

Parents nearing retirement should have a conversation with their adult children about their financial situation. It can feel overwhelming and a bit uncomfortable. Consider these four tips to get the conversation started:

1. Communicate your own financial plans. Share any major financial and lifestyle decisions, including if you’re planning to travel or relocate; what arrangements you’ve made for future health care needs and any legacy plans you have in place. If you’re currently providing financial support to your adult children or grandchildren (or plan to in the future), speak honestly and set realistic expectations. Be clear about your ability to contribute funds for their specific financial goals (such as educational expenses) or to provide support if your child has a financial emergency.

2. Let them know what they can expect in the future. If you’ve identified a shortfall or may need financial assistance if certain circumstances arise (such as a long-term care situation), make your children aware of this immediately. Discuss their ability and willingness to help, and if needed explore other options together. If you feel good about your financial situation, offer your children any financial truths you’ve learned.

3. Plan for the unexpected. An unexpected disability or death has the potential to greatly affect your child’s financial situation and may even leave you with unanticipated responsibility. Ask your children if they have life and disability insurance, whether they’ve established a guardianship plan for their children. Also share with them the plans you’ve made. Provide information on where important documents can be found.

4. Listen and understand one another’s values. Whether you and your children usually agree about politics, religion or financial habits, it’s important to respect each other’s plans and wishes. Come to a mutual understanding about when financial conversations are appropriate and what types of financial decisions should be communicated.

Many families find it difficult to have financial discussions. And your kids may not be up for the discussion because they don’t want to think about their parents getting older. Invite your children to join you for a meeting with your financial advisor if you have one. A professional’s objective viewpoint can be especially valuable for financial conversations between generations of family members.

Bennett Whitlock, CRPC ®, is a private wealth advisor and managing director with Whitlock Wealth Management, a franchise of Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. Learn more at or call 703-492-7732.


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