The Key to Having Productive Financial Family Discussions

In life and money, timing is often everything. And that’s particularly true when it comes to sensitive family discussions about retirement security, elder care, and estate planning.

Family discussions between parents and adult children could serve as a much-needed reality check. Yet, even when conversations are taking place, sometimes it is difficult to get into the details without having a conflict.


Here are some guidelines to get a family financial conversation going, and to help keep them on track:

  • Initiate family discussions earlier. Ask as many detailed questions as you can. The earlier and more detailed the conversations are, the more prepared your family will be.
  • Follow the “voice not vote” rule. While all family members should have a role in the planning process, the ultimate decisions about finances, health care, and elder care should be made by the person whose money and care are under discussion.
  • Make sure the right people are talking about the right things. And try to make sure they are talking at the right times, in the right way. Plan in advance so you can define roles, determine which conversations to have, and choose when and how different people will be involved.
  • Commit to follow-up conversations to help keep the dialogue going. Keep the momentum going and schedule as many get-togethers as you need, and revisit plans at least annually to make sure they still make sense.

If you'd like to read an article with more tips, please visit and enter 8 Habits of Successful Family Communication in the search bar.


If you’d like to learn more about your estate planning options, you may have access to professional assistance through UC’s legal plan. The ARAG legal services plan provides a wide range of free or discounted legal services—including estate planning assistance. Go to UCnet and search Estate Planning to learn more about the robust legal services available, including help with wills, trusts, powers of attorney, and healthcare directives.

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