Break the Taboo and Help Your Family to Succeed

Have you talked about your financial values with your future heirs?  Have you shared some specifics about your portfolio with your adult children? Have you had an open discussion about any of the details of your finances with your family? If you’re like most people, you likely recoiled at the mention of having any of those conversations. However, speaking about money with your family doesn’t have to be a painful experience.

There are many ways to bring your loved ones into an enlightening dialogue without laying your bank statements and tax returns across the kitchen table for examination. You might simply begin by sharing your investment philosophy with your family.  For a society where oversharing with strangers on social media is the norm for many, talking about money remains largely avoided in American families. Whether it’s fear of losing privacy, the thought of being judged harshly or simply not knowing where to begin, many of us do our best to avoid any discussions that involve mixing family and money. While this is common practice, is it a good idea?

If you have a young family, it can be easier to establish comfortable new lines of communication about finances. By sharing your own experiences and knowledge over time you can provide your children with real-world lessons in financial literacy that many of their peers, who may lack access to positive financial role models, may struggle with throughout their lives. If talking about money is second nature to children as they grow up, by the time they reach the age where variables like college tuition and car insurance payments come into play, they will likely be better capable of understanding how to make good choices with their available resources.

On the other hand, if you’re the patriarch of a multigenerational family and you intend to transition significant wealth or a family business down to your heirs, if money has been an off-limits conversation, the future may lead to confusion or hurt feelings.  As the family members who have built up the fortune, it’s reasonable to have expectations as to how you envision your children and grandchildren will manage the assets you are passing down. You may even have specific reasons as to why there might be an uneven disbursement of wealth between your heirs.

By engaging in ongoing conversations regarding current finances and future goals, you can create opportunities for shared family strategies and even fresh viewpoints.  If a legacy of philanthropy is important to you, discussing the value of this with family members may allow them to understand that your connection to a particular cause runs deeper than making a few donations.  With an open family dialogue, questions and responsibilities can be discussed and better understood prior to any transitions, potentially leaving everyone more comfortable with decisions that you have made together.  Sometimes, unfortunately, we run out of time and conversations that could have been had during one’s lifetime are never had due to one’s death.

It’s important to remember that while discussing money with family members might feel awkward at first, it is not the same thing as giving up control.  It’s natural to feel guarded and protective of wealth which may have taken a lifetime to build. However, by sharing your hard-earned wisdom with younger generations, you can provide clarity and insight regarding your financial values, and in turn, better ensure that your success may carry further down your family line.

To learn more about some important family discussions you should consider, please reach out to us.  An advisor from Frisch Financial will be happy to answer your questions.