As the summer heats up and masks come off, Americans are getting back out there. Whether it’s a camping trip, beach vacation, or bringing everyone together for National Family Reunion Month, everyone seems to be talking travel plans.
After so long being apart, many of us are looking forward to hugs and having everyone under one roof again. Family meetups may also be a chance to share your retirement plans with your family. Discussing important matters with your loved ones may feel taboo, but it’s important to address financial decisions that will have an impact on those close to you. So if you’re vaccinated and gearing up for a family get-together, here’s a checklist of things to cover.
Why Discuss Your Personal Retirement Plan with Your Family?
“We couldn’t cancel dad’s cable after he died because we didn’t have his account info.”
“There was no will and my brothers and I were left to argue over every little thing.” Comments like these are not uncommon among families.
If your family has a tough time talking about retirement and aging, you’re not alone. Money conversations can be touchy, regardless of the amount of resources your family has. And many seniors may resist divulging private financial information to their children. But being open with your family about your retirement plans has many benefits.
- Make your wishes known - Sharing your retirement plan can be a chance to set boundaries, share concerns, and express any explicit desires. Keeping everyone in the loop will provide clarity around the wealth transfer and help things go smoothly
- Prepare family members for change - Whether it’s selling the family home, relocating, or moving from full-time to part-time work, there will be some adjustments that impact your family members. The more advance notice you give them, the more time they have to adjust
- Give everyone a voice - Even if the conversation focuses on your retirement, your children should be allowed to ask questions and express their own wishes or concerns. They may even bring up important points you hadn’t thought of
- Avoid surprises - Is it possible your adult children are expecting an inheritance that you don’t have or don’t plan to give? Are they counting on help with putting the kids through college? Talking now keeps everyone on the same page and can save your loved ones from stress and heartache in the future
- Set a good example - Show younger generations the importance of planning and talking openly about money, while at the same time building trust and emotional connection within the family
What to Cover During Family Finance Talks
Just as retirement planning is an ongoing process, so are the family conversations about your financial plans. You probably won’t be able to cover everything in one day, but you can use the initial meeting to spark a dialogue about important topics of concern, such as:
- Your current financial plan - Including plans for income in retirement, beneficiaries for accounts, and your estate plan
- Relocation - Do your children know if you plan to travel frequently or move to another location in retirement?
- Family heirlooms - Share your plans for any family items you want to bequeath to a specific relative, including the family home. (If you plan to use the home equity for expenses, you can make that clear in this conversation)
- Plans for health care - Discuss what kind of care you would like to receive, either at home or in a long-term care facility
- Important documents - Do you have a living will and last will and testament? What about durable power of attorney or medical power of attorney? If you do, let your family members know the location and how to access them
Depending on your situation, you may need to have this conversation with your siblings and your elderly parents, as well as with your children about your own retirement.
When Is the Best Time to Have a Family Financial Discussion?
Family vacations and holidays provide opportunities for discussions related to family money matters - but are they really the ideal time and place? Family time can be stressful as it is, and some family members may not want to spend precious bonding time talking about retirement portfolios.
To avoid springing a surprise on your relatives, use the family reunion as a chance to open the door to the conversation - but reserve the actual sit-down for another time. Try to lock in a future date for the meeting before everyone leaves.
If you do decide to hold a family meeting during a family reunion, set aside time outside of planned dinners, events, or outings. No one wants to talk about burial versus cremation while they’re supposed to be enjoying a poolside barbeque.
Set an agenda and a time limit, and know that you may need to have multiple meetings. Providing the agenda or topic checklist ahead of time gives everyone a chance to prepare their thoughts, questions, and any necessary documents.
Enlist Help If You Need It
Every family is unique and has different trigger points. And even families who get along may have squabbles when it comes to money and planning for the future as a family.
If needed, a financial advisor can be present to facilitate the discussion with your loved ones. An objective third-party may be helpful in the case of complicated family relationships (or any time you can't come to agreement on your own). And they can help keep the meeting on track. If appropriate, you can also consult your doctor, care manager or estate lawyer for relevant advice.
If you decide to engage a financial planner, a fiduciary is often the best choice - thanks to the fiduciary oath, you can trust these advisors to make unbiased recommendations, without conflicts of interest.
Not sure if you're working with a fiduciary advisor? Download a copy of our Fiduciary Oath Guide to make sure your retirement planning is in good hands.