Parents, please do your loved ones and yourselves a favor, talk about money.
Having personally worked through, and been a part of helping others, with multiple family estates, it is clear that we all need to work on how we talk about money.
BIG MYTH: Only those with money need to talk about money.
THE TRUTH: The “less” money you feel you may have, the more important it is to have everyone on the same page to protect every dollar the family has worked hard for!
Money in certain families is not tied to emotions or treated as something to avoid. Money is part of their familial culture and learning. Those "with money" are raised knowing about how money is earned, grown, and passed on. They are also more likely to understand how to build their own wealth early on with this knowledge, gaining assets and limiting liabilities.
A New York Times article "4 Reasons Parents Don’t Discuss Money (and Why They Should)" by Paul Sullivan describes the phenomenon that parents are more likely to talk about sex, bullying, and mental health than money.
Honestly, think about the following:
1. If there are worries about what sharing financial information with child(ren) would do to them or the relationship, there are probably more pressing primary familial/personal challenges to deal with first.
2. Financial literacy is not taught in schools. Trial and error should not be a wealth management or estate planning learning method!
3. Even “simple” estates can become complex when questions arise and answers become elusive. (How many accounts? What insurance? Who is dealing with what? You didn't create a trust or plan for any assets? Where is the will/you don't have a will?)
4. There is a difference between complete transparency and open, honest conversations. Finding balance is critical.
If we want what is best for all families, young people should have the knowledge and skills they need to succeed, and the hard-earned assets that families have accumulated should be protected during times of transition and not become a source of conflict.
Changing family relationships and cultures to include financial conversations is not a one-size-fits-all or one of those sitcom "sit-down-and-talk" one-time sessions. Trust, knowledge, and rapport are not built in a day, nor was Rome or family assets, and thus this process should not be treated as such.
Jasdeep Singh, West Hartford, CT
UCONN MBA Candidate
Former Riverside Principal
Former Wolcott Principal