Speaking about finances can be a difficult task in general, and potentially more challenging to have those conversations with loved ones. Whether it is a spouse, parent, child, or other family member, there is no shortage of financial topics that can cause confusion, disagreements, and worse. For these reasons, the topic is often ignored—leading to much more challenging situations down the road.
Taking time to communicate clearly and work together is a crucial step in constructing a cohesive plan to accomplish shared objectives. Whether the focus is on making a budget, setting a timeline and dollar amount for large purchases, investing strategies, education savings, gifting, multigenerational planning, or something else, there are bound to be conflicting viewpoints and opinions based on upbringing, experiences, and personal values. Below are a few strategies to help start these conversations.
Lay the Groundwork for a Productive Conversation
Before jumping into a specific topic with your family, spend some time thinking about your own financial values, strengths, and weaknesses. Take an objective look at the areas where you excel financially, and where you could improve. Doing this can help identify why your opinions may differ opinions from other family members.
Think about the objective of these conversations and what the desired outcome is. This may be different for each person involved, but it will help guide the conversation if there is a specified goal.
Schedule a Family Meeting
It is important to designate a time and place for everyone to get together. Whether it is immediate or extended family, having a location where everyone feels comfortable and can ask questions is key to a successful conversation.
Plan for Talking to Immediate Versus Extended Family
Conversations with immediate family should focus on more personal financial goals and objectives. This may include the family budget, education funding, retirement goals, annual exclusion gifting, investing, charitable giving, estate planning, and more. The level of detail and topics will vary depending on children’s ages, though it is important to start the conversations early.
There are a variety of topics that could be relevant in a meeting that includes extended family. Depending on the size of the family, goals, and involvement with each other, topics may include:
- Estate planning—It is important to have general knowledge of what the goals of the estate plan are and the key people and professionals who are involved.
- Goals for family wealth—Are there shared philanthropic or charitable goals? Identifying these goals can help in creating a more cohesive plan. It could also be something that requires shared decision-making, helping family members work together, and gain a sense of responsibility.
- Asset transfer and gifting strategies—Depending on the size of the estate, it may be worth exploring annual exclusion gifting, using lifetime gifting or other strategies.
- Healthcare and caregiving matters—Make sure there is a plan in place to provide adequate care and everyone understands it.
Clear communication and transparency are extremely important when it comes to family finances and building a successful plan. Including a financial advisor to help facilitate the conversation and clarify objectives and strategies can be particularly helpful. If you have any questions, contact us today.
Important Disclosure Information:
Different types of investments involve varying degrees of risk, including the risk of loss of your entire investment. Past performance is not indicative of future results. CPWM and its employees can give no assurance that the performance of any specific investment recommendation or investment strategy discussed herein, whether directly or indirectly, will be profitable, or that it will be equal to any historical performance level discussed herein. The discussion or information contained herein is not intended to be, and should not be deemed as, personalized investment advice. The recommendations made may not be suitable for your specific individual situation and we encourage you to discuss with your financial professional before undertaking any investment strategy or recommendation contained herein. The discussions contained in this blog is current only as of the date hereof and may change due to a number of factors, including varying market conditions.