Older Parents And Adult Children Differ On Financial Views: Discuss

Many of our social views and opinions are shaped by the times during which we were raised and our young adult years. For example, those who lived through the Great Depression may be thrifty savers for their entire lifetimes, even when there is no longer a need. One difference between generations is the way in which we communicate. In earlier generations, children were raised to be seen and not heard.

Many of today’s elderly may have been raised to always assume the role of “parent” even when their children become adults. In view of that hierarchy, it may not be surprising that there are communication gaps today. A recent survey found that older parents and their adult children have a number of different financial views, including their approach to long-term care planning.

The survey was conducted by Fidelity Investments. The survey results point out the communication gaps as well as the opportunities that exist should the elderly and their adult children have more frank discussions. The survey’s results are illuminating.

  • Almost all of the grown children, 97 percent, thought they would need to care for their elderly parents at some point.
  • Twenty-four percent of the adult children thought they would need to help their parents financially, compared to 97 percent of the parents who said they won’t need it.
  • Adult children are unaware of the value of their elderly parents’ estate and typically underestimate by about $100,000.
  • Just 20 percent of the elderly who are more financially situated thought their retirement would include a comfortable lifestyle, while 38 percent of their adult children felt that mom and dad would be comfy.

It seems as though the adult children feel as though they are the sandwich generation, and their elderly parents don’t see it the same way. Communication seems to be the key issue here. The survey revealed that the elderly feel their conversations have been quite detailed for the most part, and the adult children don’t feel the same way.

One of the benefits of comprehensive estate planning is that it is an opportunity for everyone involved to know what is going on. In the case of the adult children, knowing how their elderly parents are situated might help those adult children do a better job of their own retirement or estate planning.

Source: Associated Press, “Let’sTalk: Survey finds older parents, adult children can’t agree on basic financial planning,” Mark Jewell, Nov. 14, 2012