If you thought the “birds and the bees” was a difficult conversation, try talking to your children about money and death. While Americans generally don’t talk about death and money, nevertheless, these conversations are necessary, according to a recent article, “Let’s talk about money and death: Why aging parents and their adult children should have ‘the talk,’” from MarketWatch. Sharing information about finances and end-of-life wishes can prevent resentment or stress among children and gives everyone involved peace of mind.

If an estate plan has been created and financial and tax planning accomplished, but the adult children aren’t told a plan exists, the children may worry as parents age. What will happen when they die? Will the siblings know what to do? Who will be in charge? A family meeting to discuss the plan and the parents’ wishes can address these issues.

This is especially important for members of Generation X (Americans born between 1965 and 1980). This cohort has the most assets, may deal with a significant wealth transfer, and often cares for its children and aging parents.

Start by putting together an agenda for the family meeting. Understand that there may need to be more than one meeting, since there is so much ground to cover. Long-term Care planning, the current status of the parent’s living situation, and plans for a possible move to a continuing care facility are just the start. Do the parents have an estate plan and documents like Powers of Attorney, Medical Directives, or a Trust? As we often tell our clients, creating your estate planning documents is the first step but it is important to communicate what you have done and make sure your children know what they need to do when the time comes to act.

Discussing money can be an emotional conversation, especially if there are differences between sibling’s financial statuses. Parents are often nervous to share information about their net worth, sometimes because they don’t want their children to lose incentive to work, and in other situations because they are embarrassed about not having enough money to sustain them through their later years.

Having a neutral third party in the meeting, like an estate planning attorney or a counselor, can be helpful when emotions are running high. Holding a family meeting in a law office may sound too formal. However, having a professional on hand who can clarify estate, financial, and tax matters may help keep the conversation focused and the family on track.

Confronting the realities of mortality and money is difficult even in the best of circumstances. Nevertheless, with the support of skilled professionals, a focus on care and the creation of a no-judgment zone, the family will be able to help each other as they prepare for the future. Our attorneys at Frankel, Rubin, Klein, Payne & Pudlowski, P.C. in St. Louis, Missouri are experienced with discussing family matters and would be happy to help. Book a call today to discuss your options and help you start the conversation.

Reference: MarketWatch (March 23, 2024) “Let’s talk about money and death: Why aging parents and their adult children should have ‘the talk’”