Money is a topic that can be very private for a lot of people. Now, I do love to discuss money in general though! I’m sure that’s beyond obvious 🙂 At the same time, I don’t like to share exact details of my own personal situation, in terms of specific numbers. Most people tend to be the same way, including most fellow personal finance bloggers.
But when it comes to parents and their grown kids, is total privacy necessary? Is it even a good idea?
I recall talking to one of my friends years ago, discussing his financial situation at the time. He was hoping to get a little bit of help from his Dad in short-term pinch he was in. He broached the topic in what turned out to be a very wrong way: by asking his Dad how much money he made.
His Dad’s immediate response: “That’s none of your business!”.
Personally, I never really had the guts to ask my parents about financial specifics when younger. I tried to ask in a roundabout way a few times, and my Dad deftly avoided the topic. Which is fine, because I do think that some things are personal.
This being said, as everyone gets older, it might be a good idea for parents to discuss their finances with their grown kids. At the very least, it’s important to have an in case of death file, and let the kids know of its existence. It can only benefit them, not to mention the surviving spouse of course. It’s important to keep in mind how much those people mean to us, and how we want them to be able to get through tough situations and protect family assets.
Beyond this, I think it’s important to be clear with kids in terms of what burden you might be putting them through. If parents don’t have assets, and then grow very old without any ability to survive financially, who will end up helping out? Yes, the kids. The same kids who they may not have wanted to know any details about their finances. Now, the topic of financial supporting parents or in-laws is one that people have many opinions on, but if elders are truly in dire straits, you know you would help out.
On the other hand, I also think that if grown kids think that they will get an inheritance, it might get them to be lazy. They might not work as hard, and could just bank on a windfall – even if modest. Not everyone wants their grown kids to be lazy and sit back counting on living off other people’s money. So, that’s one reason not to discuss finances with them – at least, when they’re younger. Maybe it’s all a matter of timing.
I’m curious what you think.
My Questions for You
Do you think that there is a right time for parents to share details of their finances with grown kids?
How has your family approached this?