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Talking about money with aging parents

In a new report, Wells Fargo found that many Americans avoid talking about their aging parents' finances.


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In a survey to better understand how financially prepared Americans with parents entering retirement are, Wells Fargo has discovered that many Millennials haven’t had conversations about their parent’s finances.

This online survey totaled results from 1,201 adults with parents over the age of 70, including both Millennials and Gen Xers. The age of respondents ranged from 25 to over 65 years in age. The full report on the results can be found here.

The topic of money isn’t one people discuss often, if at all. About one third (34%) of Americans have not spoken to their parents about money at all, with only 38% understanding their parents’ current and future financial plan.

At only 46%, less than half of Americans know if their parents have the money they need now. That number drops to 42% for those that have discussed a financial plan for the future with them.

Despite these low numbers, most Americans (70%) say their parents are financially prepared for their future, with 68% saying they know where that money is coming from.

For those that have asked, they show much more confidence in being prepared than those who have not, with 76% feeling prepared after asking, compared to the 57% who have not.

Given the low numbers of Americans who fully understand their parents’ financial situation and future, it may come as a surprise that 54% prefer to manage their parents’ finances should their parents be unable to do it themselves.

Additionally, while 51% believe themselves to be the best fit for managing their parents’ finances, only about one third (37%) actively want to do so, about one quarter do so out of obligation, and about a fifth don’t trust anyone else to.

This belief in being the best choice extends to siblings as well, with 84% believing themselves more trustworthy than their sibling, and 40% not trusting their sibling to manage their parents’ finances.

Regardless of who the primary financial caretaker is, 68% of Americans feel prepared to help their parents manage their finances, with 75% confident after speaking to their parents (54% for those who have not).

Of those that don’t want to, they choose not to as they believe someone else is more fit to do so, would be happier having someone else manage it, or would rather avoid causing familial stress.

But for many, talking about their parents’ finances is a non issue. About 42% would rather discuss funeral plans rather than financial ones, with 31% being willing to accept less inheritance in favor of someone else managing their finances.

A little over a quarter of respondents would rather avoid the topic entirely and instead manage their parents’ finances after they die.


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