We spoke with both boomer and senior clients recently to get their thoughts about whether they have shared their financial information with their children. If you have anecdotes on your clients and their willingness to talk about their finances with family members, leave a comment below or email me at [email protected].
How much do your children know about your financial situation?
“They know just about everything there is to know. When I lost my husband 14 years ago, my standard of living really went down. He was the breadwinner in the family, so I eventually had to sell my house and move in with my son. I explained to him and his wife the straits I was in, and they welcomed me into their home. They have been absolutely wonderful to me.”
— Gail, 78, Scarborough, Maine
“They know I’ve planned well, that I’ll be okay. About a year after the recession started, my daughters came to me for ‘the talk.’ They just wanted to make sure I hadn’t lost a terribly large amount, because they knew I had some real estate investments, which had suffered. But, fortunately, I was well diversified, and I told them not to worry about me, that I wouldn’t have to go on a cat food diet anytime soon.”
— Calvin, 80, Escondido, Calif.
“We try to keep that kind of that information to ourselves. Even after the losses we’ve had, we still have a sizable estate, which will allow us to leave them something after we’re gone. But we decided a long time ago that we weren’t going to let them know any of that because you just never know. We might end up needing it ourselves. If anything, they think we’re worse off than we are.”
— Jeremy, 75, Brighton, Mich.
“My mother always said it was gauche to talk about money, so that’s something I just don’t do. My children know that I have enough to take care of myself. I don’t hide my spending. But the details of my finances are just none of their business — try though they might to get it out of me.”
— Ella, 82, Park City, Utah
“They know we’ve had our struggles over the years. When my first business failed back in the ‘70s, I had to declare bankruptcy, and they knew about that. And later, when my luck improved and we were able to buy a house again, I’m sure they were able to deduce that things had gotten better. I don’t know if they know my current situation or not. They’re probably afraid to ask!”
— Glen, 57, Morristown, N.J.
“I was playing all of that fairly close to the vest until a few Christmases ago. My son had brought his family to visit me and my wife, and I inadvertently left a projection that my advisor had sent me out on my desk. When he saw it, he commented on the total, and I could not longer deny that I had amassed a small fortune. I really wish he didn’t know that.”
— Will, 61, Los Gatos, Calif.
“We tell them as little as possible. We don’t want them to worry about us, but we also don’t want them to think they can lie around and wait for their inheritance to come in the mail. One of our children has battled drug addiction for decades, and that kind of information would be very unhelpful for him. We have everything set up in trusts so that when the time comes, he won’t be able to blow it all at once.”
— Paul, 63, Naples, Fla.
See also: No more estate planning excuses
“I have COPD, and my doctors have told me that I need to have a plan in case I’m disabled enough to need in-home care. I guess you could say I’m in denial, because I really need to sit down with my kids and let them know my circumstances so that they can be prepared. It’s been on my to-do list for a while.”
— Darla, 59, Lubbock, Texas
For more from Daniel Williams, see: