As families gather for the holiday season, it’s the perfect time to embrace an often-avoided topic: family finances and generational wealth. According to a survey conducted by Fifth Third Bank, nearly Two-thirds of Americans who have at least $3 million in investable assets have not talked to their children about their wealth or never will, according to a Merrill Private Wealth Management study of 650 families (1). This lack of communication can pose a threat to the longevity of accumulated wealth within a family.

The adage, “Shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations,” carries a stark truth. Forbes highlights the startling statistic that 90% of wealthy families see their fortune diminish within three generations (2). This decline isn’t merely about financial mismanagement; it largely stems from a lack of communication and financial education within the family.

Initiating and handling family conversations about money can be sensitive and challenging. Here are some considerations to help navigate these discussions effectively:

Choose the Right Time and Place: Select a neutral and comfortable setting for the conversation. Holiday gatherings or special family occasions can create a conducive atmosphere for open discussions.

Start Slowly: Begin with casual, non-threatening questions to gauge interest. For instance, ask about their understanding of financial matters or their financial goals.

Be Honest and Transparent: Share your own experiences and lessons learned from managing finances. Openness often encourages others to reciprocate and engage more freely.

Use Real-Life Examples: Relate financial discussions to real situations or family stories. Sharing anecdotes can make complex financial concepts more relatable and easier to understand.

Set an Agenda: Define the purpose of the conversation. Whether it’s about estate planning, investments, or simply sharing values around money, setting a clear agenda helps focus the discussion.

Listen Actively: Encourage family members to express their views and concerns. Listening attentively can help address their fears or misconceptions about money matters.

Avoid Blame or Judgment: Financial situations can vary among family members. It’s essential to maintain a non-judgmental, supportive environment to foster open dialogue.

Highlight the Importance of Financial Education: Emphasize the value of financial literacy and its role in securing the family’s future. Offer resources or suggest professional advice for those interested.

Focus on Shared Goals: Discuss shared family goals and values when it comes to money. Emphasize how financial decisions can align with these common objectives.

Seek Professional Guidance: Consider involving a financial advisor or planner who can facilitate discussions, provide expert advice, and offer unbiased guidance to the entire family.

Respect Boundaries: Not everyone may be comfortable discussing their financial situation. Respect their privacy and avoid pressuring anyone to disclose more than they’re willing to share.

Follow-Up and Maintain Consistency: Initiating a single conversation may not resolve everything. Encourage ongoing discussions and a consistent dialogue about financial matters within the family.

A proactive measure to instill financial responsibility across generations involves introducing the family to a trusted financial professional. By involving an expert who understands your family’s financial values, you can create a bridge of continuity, helping your wealth endure for generations.

More than just passing on monetary assets, this conversation facilitates the transmission of financial knowledge, reinforcing the importance of responsible wealth management. Taking the initiative to discuss financial matters during the holiday season may lead to a more secure financial future for your family.

Ultimately, leaving the fate of your hard-earned wealth to chance is an avoidable risk. Embracing these conversations about money and inheritance can help maintain and protect the legacy you’ve worked diligently to build.

As the holidays approach, take the opportunity to open up dialogue about financial matters with your loved ones. Should you need assistance in navigating these discussions, you can gain valuable insight at a no-charge educational seminar or webinar near you.

Sources:

(1)Sullivan, Paul. “4 Reasons Parents Don’t Discuss Money (and Why They Should).” The New York Times, 2 Aug. 2019, www.nytimes.com/2019/08/02/your-money/parenting-wealth-discussions.html.

(2)Publisher. “Generational Wealth: Why Do 70% of Families Lose Their Wealth in the 2nd Generation?” Nasdaq, www.nasdaq.com/articles/generational-wealth%3A-why-do-70-of-families-lose-their-wealth-in-the-2nd-generation-2018-10.