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Why Americans Don’t Talk About Money With their Families

By Claire Ballentine

Would you rather talk to your parents about their money or their funerals? It’s a tough call for some Americans. 

More than 40% of respondents in a new survey from Wells Fargo and Ipsos say they’d rather discuss their parents’ deaths than the state of their finances. And 19% wouldn’t mind inheriting nothing if it meant they didn’t have to talk about money with their family. 

(Photo by August de Richelieu from Pexels)

With the Baby Boomer generation aging, questions around end-of-life planning are becoming increasingly relevant for many Americans. The number of people age 65 and older is expected to increase to 73 million by 2030, compared to just 49 million in 2016, according to the Census Bureau. Plus, the country’s retirement savings shortfall means conversations around investments and savings are more important than ever. 

Only 46% of the study’s respondents say they’ve talked with their parents about whether they have the money they need now, and just 42% have delved into future financial plans.

The reluctance is so intense that almost a third say they would rather inherit less money if it meant someone else would manage their parents’ finances. One in four would prefer to deal with their parents’ estates after they die than discuss it while they’re alive. 

Still, there’s a desire to be in control. More than half the respondents say they’d prefer to be the one to manage their parents’ money if their parents aren’t able to. Just 24% would prefer a sibling to fill that role. A majority say they trust their sibling to do the job, but 84% say they trust themselves more. 

The survey was conducted online from Nov. 1 to 4 among 1,201 Americans who have a parent at least 70 years old. 

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