Discussing finances with one’s children is often a delicate topic. Parents typically want their children to be prepared for a lifetime of financial responsibility. However, they may fear that a frank discussion about wealth could foster an unwanted sense of entitlement. In addition, parents often think that until their children become adults, the family’s total financial picture is, quite simply, none of their concern. Our clients frequently consult with Klingenstein Fields Advisors (KF Advisors) on when, and how, to engage with the next generation regarding money. Because we often serve our clients through multiple generations, we have seen a broad range of approaches. While there is no “one size fits all” method, through our experience, we have identified five key tips to help our clients ensure future generations are aware of the responsibilities of wealth, and the need to plan:
Start early. Start the dialogue and education about wealth early, at an age-appropriate level, and keep reinforcing the message.
Involve your kids. Solicit their ideas and opinions so they feel “invested” in the family’s mission and goals.
Impose limits. Don’t treat wealth like a limitless tap; establish budgets against spending and maintain an emergency pool of money.
Protect your wealth. Sometimes, despite everything, you may decide that additional control, through a fiduciary structure, is needed. A third-party fiduciary may be the best way to meet philanthropic goals, control special circumstances, and ultimately, avoid wealth deterioration.
When you say it, mean it. It’s easy to set budget constraints and spending rules. The difficulty is in consistently enforcing them. Letting your children flout the rules without consequence will undermine any foundation of financial responsibility you’ve managed to build with them. So if you set them… don’t forget them.
We encourage you to educate your children about the responsibilities, as well as the benefits that come with wealth. We are always here as a resource to assist you and your family in understanding and managing your assets. We welcome the opportunity to meet with you, and your family, to help develop a plan to sustain your wealth for future generations.