Are you prepared to discuss your family’s wealth?

A young man leans over his desk and looks thoughtfully out of his office window.

Here are three tips for setting the stage for respectful and caring interactions.

Talking about finances can create tension. Nevertheless, the benefits outweigh the momentary discomfort. In fact, it might represent the difference between financial success and losing family wealth.

Start with open-ended questions

Asking open-ended questions is one of the best ways to explore this topic, for example:

  • I would like to hear about your intentions when you started to create wealth; how did it evolve?
  • What were some of the successes and struggles in the early stages of our family’s financial life?
  • What was important to you, as parents, as you organized our family’s finances?

Do not be discouraged if the conversations are brief at the beginning. The more you talk about this, the easier it gets.

Understand foundational values

Talking with family about inheritance and financial support or gifting can be prickly. Adult children fear being perceived as greedy, and parents fear transparency will spoil their children’s motivation. Yet, knowledge is empowering. You might start with values as it is the foundation for understanding the meaning behind money:

  • What values, including values about money, did you inherit from your family or other important influencers in your life?
  • What are your values about money, especially as it pertains to privacy, spending, debt, investing, and charitable giving?
  • What values and life lessons about money do you wish for me?

Share your appreciation

It can help to start with a statement of gratefulness and appreciation:

  • I appreciate your example and would love to know your expectations for me regarding finances, education, and independence.
  • I am grateful for your guidance. If I needed financial support, can I come to you for resources?
  • Is there anything I need to know about your estate planning or future inheritance that will help me make good money decisions?

Remember it’s never too early or too late to start talking about family finances—and anyone can begin the conversation. No topic is off limits when it comes to learning to be financially responsible when it is discussed with respect and care for each other.

Wells Fargo Wealth & Investment Management (WIM) is a division within Wells Fargo & Company. WIM provides financial products and services through various bank and brokerage affiliates of Wells Fargo & Company.