Families find financial discussions difficult

Conversations about retirement and aging are always tricky – as shown by a recent American study that found a significant lack of proactive discussion and engagement between family members on key financial topics.

The company behind the research, wealth management firm Merrill Lynch, says that this is a cause for concern, as a lack of openness and communication can negatively impact on various aspects of retirement and overall financial security.

The study found that 70% of adult children age 25+ have not had a discussion with parents about their retirement and other issues related to aging. And more than half (56%) of parents aged 50+ say they have not discussed any important financial issues – such as a will, health directive, inheritance plans and where they plan to live in retirement – with their adult children.

Furthermore, just one in four (24%) siblings age 50+ have discussed how their parents will be financially provided for, or cared for, as they get older.

Across all relationships, the most common catalyst for such discussions is the death or illness of a family member or friend (43%), and the top barriers for having an open conversation include fear of family conflict (24%) and the fact that such topics are just too uncomfortable to discuss (19%).

However, people who do have these discussions with family members are, on average, nearly twice as likely to say they would be well prepared financially if faced with a family challenge, says the study.

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