When it comes to the topic of retirement, aging parents and their adult children too often have a failure to communicate. “Most parents are probably better off than they let their kids understand and they don’t want to share their ‘balance sheet’ with their adult children,” said John Sweeney, executive vice president at Fidelity Investments. According to Fidelity Investments latest Family & Finance Study, 40% of families disagree on the roles children will play as their parents age, in terms of who will be their caregiver, who will be executor of the estate and who will manage the finances. Some of the problem may stem from the fact that families often don’t realize the importance of talking these topics through. The survey revealed that 38% of parents and 43% of adult children who have yet to discuss retirement plans say it’s because the subject never comes up. That said, when the conversations do take place they are often inadequate. For example, 43% of parents indicate they have not had detailed conversations with family members about long-term care and eldercare. Furthermore, while 69% of parents believe they’ve had detailed conversations with their children on the subject of will and estate planning, 52% of children say they have not. According to Sweeney, families need to be on the same page when it comes to financial planning, as there are real emotional and financial consequences when family conversations don’t happen or lack sufficient depth. Unfortunately, the lack of communication can lead to serious family fireworks later on down the road. On the flip side, the surveyed showed that 93% of children who say they have had “any” detailed conversation with their parents are significantly more likely to possess greater “peace of mind” around these issues.
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