Family Conversations Increase Confidence in Financial Future

Ameriprise Financial says a financial adviser can help families understand their full financial picture with a customized approach to fit their unique needs.

More than half (52%) of Americans say they feel extremely or very confident about their family’s financial future, due to regular family conversations about money, according to research released by Ameriprise Financial.

The study found family members tend to discuss different topics with different relatives. Adult children are most likely to initiate conversations with their parents about managing current finances (74%), the cost of health care (73%) and long-term financial goals (70%). When parents take the lead in financial discussions with their adult children, they also bring up managing debt (73%). In general, survey respondents report they are less likely to talk to their family members about estate planning and inheritance but it’s still a popular topic (67% talked to their parents, and 69% talked to their adult children about this topic).

Though estate planning can be a tough topic to initiate, families who have talked about it say the discussion went much smoother than anticipated. The overwhelming majority said the conversations were straightforward, easy and relaxed as opposed to awkward or difficult.

“The hardest part is starting the conversation, which is where a financial adviser can make a difference,” says Marcy Keckler, vice president of financial advice strategy at Ameriprise Financial. “Working with a financial professional can help family members get on the same page and could mean the difference between leaving behind a loving legacy and leaving behind a headache and hurt feelings.”

NEXT: Inheritance may cause conflict

Most survey participants (83%) want to leave money or assets to a loved one; however, only 64% feel they are on track or prepared to leave an inheritance and even less (50%) have a formal plan in place. Only 21% of parents who are planning to leave something to their children have told them how much inheritance they will receive. As a result, expectations don’t always match reality. The majority of respondents (53%) expected to receive more than $100,000. In fact, the majority (52%) of those who have received an inheritance got less than $100,000; an amount that only matched the expectations of 28% of those surveyed.

Money transferred within families can often cause conflict. Nearly one-quarter (24%) of respondents think an inheritance will cause tension or disagreements with family members—a sentiment that rings true for one-quarter of individuals who have received money following the loss of a loved one.

Both parents and their adult children say the top trigger for conversations around estate planning is aging. But, age can also create a barrier between family members when it comes to who should initiate the conversation. The number one reason why adult children haven’t talked with their parents about the topic is that they “don’t believe it’s their place to raise the issue.” Parents, meanwhile, don’t bring up the subject because “they haven’t thought about it” (25%), or “don’t feel it’s appropriate” (19%).

Ameriprise says a financial adviser can help families understand their full financial picture with a customized approach to fit their unique needs.