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Finances and Discussing Money across Generations
Old 03-30-2015, 09:20 PM   #1
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Finances and Discussing Money across Generations

I am likely substantially younger (25) than the average poster here, so I think you all can give me some good advice or feedback.

As it stands now with my nest egg and savings rate, I am looking at being FI by my mid 40s with very conservative estimates.

My parents are in their 60s and FIRE'd with about a $4m net worth, with about $3.2m in investable assets. They are very conservative and practical with their money yet they've been generous with my sibling and me by providing us with UTMAs. My parents annual expenses are around $100k or less based on what they've told me and they do have a FA that I believe has done fairly well for them. I'm fairly sure that he's doing well for them because my parents have made many big ticket purchases this year that I don't think they otherwise would have purchased. And, they've also alluded to the fact that they're "one time" purchases.

I know part of my parent's plan is to leave a sizable inheritance to us, yet money is often a taboo subject in our family. My parents make random comments about their finances and plans to leave inheritances to us, but haven't had many "official" talks with us, and me and my brother know that mom and dad are "set" but no serious convos have been had.

My point in posting all of this is to ask for your advice on how I should handle the inheritance that my parents want to leave us, talking/starting a convo to my parents about it, and (most importantly) how I should live my life given all of the above?

I know everyone says to not plan for an inheritance, which makes sense and I can agree with.

But inheritance aside, I am slated to be FI at a young age (mid 40s) from the UTMA and own savings. If I factor a sizable inheritance on top of that, I could see a day where I have more money than I may ever need (possibly double the annual FI income than I'd actually need) still at a young age, and I may look back on my 20's, 30's, and 40's and wish I'd have lived them differently (whether it be travel more, take a different career path, stress out less, start my own business, etc etc).

If you were me, how would you approach life and your goals (be it professionally, socially, etc.) given the above? Also, do you think I should instigate a convo with my parents about finances and my goals?

Sorry if this is a long and deep post (maybe I have the Monday blues), but often I still find I'm searching for meaning and direction in life that corporate America leaves me yearning for, despite padding my 401k and providing a comfortable lifestyle. Then comes Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and rinse and repeat each week!


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Old 03-30-2015, 09:32 PM   #2
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Congrats on being on track in your own right, but as you predicted, I don't think you should change anything about your life or plans based on an expected inheritance. I also wouldn't suggest a conversation with your parents about the inheritance you expect to receive except to assure them that you're doing fine and they should feel free to spend their money on themselves if there are things that will bring them happiness.

I think it would be fine to talk with your parents about their own financial planning and process in terms of learning from their experience, but otherwise I think it's up to them to initiate any conversation about any inheritance.

You never know what can happen, medical illnesses, accidents or a market downturn. Continue to plan for your own FI, and when/if you do receive something you may be able to accelerate your plans. But even in your own planning while I agree with LBYM, I also think your working years need some fun and that spending on meaningful experiences is a good investment and that it shouldn't be just accumulating for a future FI.
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Old 03-30-2015, 09:38 PM   #3
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Pretend that money doesn't exist because, well, for one there is the possibility it might not come your way. Do not let it interfere with you learning your way through life, mistakes and all. Such experiences will better prepare you for FIRE, and you'll be able to relish them. And, it's probably best not to tell potential spouses about that money so you'll be able to know they are attracted to YOU rather than Benjamin (Franklin).
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Old 03-30-2015, 09:51 PM   #4
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Pretend that money doesn't exist because, well, for one there is the possibility it might not come your way. Do not let it interfere with you learning your way through life, mistakes and all. Such experiences will better prepare you for FIRE, and you'll be able to relish them. And, it's probably best not to tell potential spouses about that money so you'll be able to know they are attracted to YOU rather than Benjamin (Franklin).
I agree with the others. Pretend that money doesn't exist and continue on your current path.

I am 43, and also stand to inherent a similar amount-possibly. Or maybe not. My parents have never brought it up, and neither my brother or I are asking. Seems like a pointless conversation. Too many end of life variables.
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Old 03-30-2015, 09:58 PM   #5
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My parents were “broke”. It is my desire to leave significant assets to our daughter, BUT, I’ve made it clear to her for her safety she needs to plan/act as though there will NOT be any inheritance.
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Old 03-30-2015, 10:03 PM   #6
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What Katiek said.

It's best not to count on an inheritance no matter how obvious it seems that one is in the offing. The unexpected can and does happen, including family feuds, market crashes and (most likely) long lived parents who need all of their assets to fund years of long term care.

That said, good communication is key, especially since you and your siblings might find yourselves making healthcare and or financial decisions for your parents at some point. It's important that everyone is on the same page. Do they have a POA, living will, etc?

Many families are reluctant to discuss money. You can take the first step by sharing your own circumstances and asking for some feedback. It's important that your parents feel you genuinely want their input as successful money managers, and not that you are "after their money". Hopefully a series of conversations can help them to trust you and feel more comfortable sharing their details. There are benefits to your parents from being open with you. For example, you may be able to help them avoid getting scammed.

The process I am describing worked with my parents and made everything much smoother.
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Old 03-30-2015, 11:17 PM   #7
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+1 with the others... ignore it and if it happens then it is gravy. I'll tell you why. I have a friend whose retirement plan seemed to be inheritances from his parents and a rich uncle. He had a messy divorce and his parents hated his ex and the idea that the ex might benefit from an inheritance to the friend... at the same time this friend's sister had a couple kids that have special needs. Well before my friend knows it the inheritance that he was planning on is spent on his parent's care in their final years, trusts for the special needs grandkids, etc and he ends up with a fraction of what he was planning on. And in the process, the rich uncle becomes less keen on my friend so that money evaporates as well.

Similar to you, I expect a nice inheritance from my mom (I manage her money for her) but I don't include any of it in my planning and will splurge some if it does happen.

I've told our kids (about your age) that if there is an inheritance left it is because I messed up and didn't spend enough or died earlier than planned (in other words, don't count on anything) even though I know it is more likely than not that there will be a nice inheritance when the time comes.
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Old 03-31-2015, 08:53 AM   #8
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Yeah, I guess I sort of asked for these responses.

Am I selfish for thinking about such a possibility?

I love my parents of course and think they should enjoy their earned retirement. But the INTJ/planning part of my brain is always thinking long term and how I can optimize things, so this is where my thinking on this subject comes into play.

I guess my thinking is that an honest conversation about family finances and long term goals would be beneficial to everyone involved. My parents have made frequent annual "gifts" to us <$10,000 recently, which I believe they plan to continue to do in the future, so it seems somewhat relevant. Although I see your point in the conversation being somewhat pointless, and even somewhat self-centered.
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Old 03-31-2015, 09:01 AM   #9
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Yeah, I guess I sort of asked for these responses.

Am I selfish for thinking about such a possibility?
We are all human and cannot easily stop thinking about these things. What we can do is avoid taking the next steps, which involve taking specific actions and making plans for them to happen. Keep this possibility as a dream, and if it does happen, it will be a pleasant surprise.
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Old 03-31-2015, 09:10 AM   #10
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We are all human and cannot easily stop thinking about these things. What we can do is avoid taking the next steps, which involve taking specific actions and making plans for them to happen. Keep this possibility as a dream, and if it does happen, it will be a pleasant surprise.

That's a good perspective. My addition is that it's good to know where assets are, not necessarily how much there is. It can be very difficult to find things, especially if they are scattered to the winds (personal experience).
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Old 03-31-2015, 09:17 AM   #11
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I can attest to the wisdom of not counting on any inheritance.

My wife's mother died a few months ago and this prompted some financial discussions between DW and her father. Her father had worked hard during his career and saved diligently such that he now has a net worth of $1.6 million at age 80. Her parents had always said the estate would be split equally between her and her younger brother. Turns out that they revised their will in 2012 leaving $1.3 million to her brother and $300k to her. Seems as if younger brother had bemoaned his financial hardships to them for years saying he hadn't been able to save for his retirement or for college for his daughter. This in spite of the fact that he's an engineer and has been making in excess of $100k for many years. We never shared details of our finances with them because there was no need to but they felt we were in good financial shape so they made the son the executor and have willed the bulk of their estate to him.

Now this is their money and their right to do with it as they please but this has still upset DW. We have not planned with the supposed inheritance in mind because you never know what will happen, however, two things about this were upsetting to DW. First, they rewarded the incompetence of one child while penalizing the more responsible child and, secondly, they made him executor even though he is younger and less financially savvy. Both of these facts seem to imply a favoritism of one child over the other and this was upsetting to DW. Yes, she will probably still get a sizable inheritance for which she is grateful but not the one she had been promised.

Anyway, continue to work hard and plan your own financial future without consideration of things that may or may not happen in the future. Proper planning is the only way to ensure your own FI.
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Old 03-31-2015, 09:43 AM   #12
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Am I selfish for thinking about such a possibility?
Yes.
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Old 03-31-2015, 09:55 AM   #13
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+1 A possible inheritance wasn't anywhere near my radar screen when I was 25 years old. I was focused on career and earning my own way. While I knew Mom & Dad were well off it was their money.
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Old 03-31-2015, 10:06 AM   #14
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I.......Now this is their money and their right to do with it as they please but this has still upset DW. We have not planned with the supposed inheritance in mind because you never know what will happen, however, two things about this were upsetting to DW. First, they rewarded the incompetence of one child while penalizing the more responsible child and, secondly, they made him executor even though he is younger and less financially savvy. Both of these facts seem to imply a favoritism of one child over the other and this was upsetting to DW. Yes, she will probably still get a sizable inheritance for which she is grateful but not the one she had been promised......
I can see why she would be miffed and I would be in those circumstances as well. I wonder if there may be a sexist thing going on since the male child was selected to be the executor. Also, it is quite odd that the less financially responsible child was chosen to be executor.

I hope that in time she can put it behind her and just enjoy her Dad's remaining years.

DD will be our executor because she is more knowledgeable about finance (she's a CPA) but not because she is eldest. DS probably could do it be he isn't as knowledgeable.

At this point our estate will be split evenly even though DD has been more financially successful. While DS is doing fine, to reward him and in effect penalize DD solely because DS has been less financially successful would be unfair. If we have grandchildren (none now and none on the horizon) we might be tempted to carve out an education fund for them and then have the remaining estate split 50/50.
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Old 03-31-2015, 10:15 AM   #15
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I can see why she would be miffed and I would be in those circumstances as well. I wonder if there may be a sexist thing going on since the male child was selected to be the executor. Also, it is quite odd that the less financially responsible child was chosen to be executor.

I hope that in time she can put it behind her and just enjoy her Dad's remaining years.

DD will be our executor because she is more knowledgeable about finance (she's a CPA) but not because she is eldest. DS probably could do it be he isn't as knowledgeable.

At this point our estate will be split evenly even though DD has been more financially successful. While DS is doing fine, to reward him and in effect penalize DD solely because DS has been less financially successful would be unfair. If we have grandchildren (none now and none on the horizon) we might be tempted to carve out an education fund for them and then have the remaining estate split 50/50.
Yes, we believe there is a degree of sexism involved and that adds to the disappointment. Her parents were seemingly enlightened in most ways but have obviously missed the mark in this regard.
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Old 03-31-2015, 10:30 AM   #16
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Hi,

You are very young to be worrying about an inheritance. Your parents will hopefully live another 20+ years. I don't plan for an inheritance although I can't see a scenario in which I won't get one. I am 46 and my parents are still in relatively good health at 77 (and hopefully for a lot longer)!

Having said that, I think you instead need to be focusing on other things. 1) It sounds like you don't like your job/chosen career path. You are young enough to do something about that - more school, change jobs/companies whatever. Even if you only work 20 more years, do you really want to spend 20 years doing something unfulfilling?

2) Life is about balance. Why do you need to be FI in your 40s, if it is at the expense of enjoying life now? LBYM is great, but you shouldn't be so focused on the future that you are not seeing today. You should save, yes, but you should also travel and do other things you enjoy, within your means. Depriving yourself unnecessarily for an arbitrary goal doesn't seem like a good life plan.

3) Life will change. You are 25. Marriage, kids, whatever, will affect whatever "plan" you have for yourself anyway. Your goals will change; life will change. Embrace it. Roll with it. Think about the time you can have with your parents, and don't worry about the money.
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Old 03-31-2015, 10:35 AM   #17
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I guess my thinking is that an honest conversation about family finances and long term goals would be beneficial to everyone involved. My parents have made frequent annual "gifts" to us <$10,000 recently, which I believe they plan to continue to do in the future, so it seems somewhat relevant. Although I see your point in the conversation being somewhat pointless, and even somewhat self-centered.
Your intentions may be good, but I still think you shouldn't initiate any conversations about a potential inheritance. If you make your plans based on the idea that you're going to inherit money, you're effectively creating some obligation on the part of your parents. Suddenly, if they don't end up giving you the money you expect, your plans are impacted because of them. Parents tend to worry about their kids and now if the market goes up or down, they have unexpected health issues or any number of other things come up, they have to worry about the impact to you.

It's great if they want to give gifts to you now, but that shouldn't create some implied expectation that you'll continue to receive them. Give them a gift in return by being clear that you're fine and they should use their resources for themselves, and when and if there is an inheritance, that's gravy. It's easy to adjust plans if you get an unexpected windfall, but harder to adjust them if you don't get amounts you've planned to receive.
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Old 03-31-2015, 10:36 AM   #18
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At this point our estate will be split evenly even though DD has been more financially successful. While DS is doing fine, to reward him and in effect penalize DD solely because DS has been less financially successful would be unfair. If we have grandchildren (none now and none on the horizon) we might be tempted to carve out an education fund for them and then have the remaining estate split 50/50.
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Yes, we believe there is a degree of sexism involved and that adds to the disappointment. Her parents were seemingly enlightened in most ways but have obviously missed the mark in this regard.
DW wants us to redo our wills even though nothing would be changed. The only things that are different is that we live in different county (still in Texas) and I'm now retired.

I'm waiting to see if our son who is financially well off and successful gets married. I would like to put a bias in our wills to help the grandkids get a start and then worry about the inheritances to our children. Even though our son "wouldn't need the money" (at this point anyway), I can't see treating him differently than the daughters. I can justify reducing his share to make room for his nieces and nephews.
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Old 03-31-2015, 10:42 AM   #19
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....

As it stands now with my nest egg and savings rate, I am looking at being FI by my mid 40s with very conservative estimates.

My parents are in their 60s and FIRE'd with about a $4m net worth, with about $3.2m in investable assets. They are very conservative and practical with their money yet they've been generous with my sibling and me by providing us with UTMAs. My parents annual expenses are around $100k or less based on what they've told me and they do have a FA that I believe has done fairly well for them. I'm fairly sure that he's doing well for them because my parents have made many big ticket purchases this year that I don't think they otherwise would have purchased. And, they've also alluded to the fact that they're "one time" purchases.

I know part of my parent's plan is to leave a sizable inheritance to us, yet money is often a taboo subject in our family. My parents make random comments about their finances and plans to leave inheritances to us, but haven't had many "official" talks with us, and me and my brother know that mom and dad are "set" but no serious convos have been had.

My point in posting all of this is to ask for your advice on how I should handle the inheritance that my parents want to leave us, talking/starting a convo to my parents about it, and (most importantly) how I should live my life given all of the above?

I know everyone says to not plan for an inheritance, which makes sense and I can agree with.

But inheritance aside, I am slated to be FI at a young age (mid 40s) from the UTMA and own savings. If I factor a sizable inheritance on top of that, I could see a day where I have more money than I may ever need (possibly double the annual FI income than I'd actually need) still at a young age, and I may look back on my 20's, 30's, and 40's and wish I'd have lived them differently (whether it be travel more, take a different career path, stress out less, start my own business, etc etc).

If you were me, how would you approach life and your goals (be it professionally, socially, etc.) given the above? Also, do you think I should instigate a convo with my parents about finances and my goals? ....

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We retired a little early (58/56) 5+ years ago, and live off our investments (no pensions). We've never discussed our financial net worth with our two daughters 41/35 (or anyone else for that matter), but they realize we are doing OK in retirement. We were always the typical LBYM (live below your means) people and live our retirement life the same.

We have talked about when to have this discussion with the both of them. We've decided that it would be appropriate to discuss this with them when one of us passes. We also feel that it would be an appropriate topic when we are older (say mid 70's). Our worry is that we would not realize that we're losing the ability to handle our own finances, and risk being taken advantage of by unscrupulous people..

I manage our finances as DW has no real interest in handling it. Given that scenario, it's all pretty much set up on auto pilot, and DW has simple 2-page instrs. on what to do and when (I go). Both daughters are very capable of taking over for us - should the need arise. They are both good with money, and we feel that we have taught them well in the area. They have both done well in life, but one is married to a person that likes to spend money to the detriment of her family. He earns well, but spends it all. Their retirement relies on a nice pension, as of now. The other daughter's husband is a good person, but not running with the big dogs. She married him recently, and has a nice nest egg for retirement already.

I wanted to give you our background so that you could get a perspective on what we feel is the right time to bring up our "official" discussion of money, and how it's all set up for our beneficiaries (FYI - plans are now that it all goes to them 50/50 - they'll have to pass it along as they see fit to their heirs).

We've not wanted to influence their decision making throughout their lives, with the knowledge of our net worth that would be heading their way eventually. We've felt that when they do inherit what's left - we wanted them to be independent of it in their lives and it just be a nice benefit to be added to their future well-being. Hope that this makes sense to you.
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Old 03-31-2015, 10:43 AM   #20
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Hey younginvestor2013. Basically ignore your parents' money and potential for inheritance. Put it in your back pocket and consider it a good plan D if A, B, and C don't work out. That's what I do anyway.

At 25, I was getting started on the path to FIRE and reached that point at 33 when I pulled the plug with a very low seven figure portfolio.

My parents are similarly situated as yours. A couple million (maybe 3) in invested assets plus a house. And they are a couple years away from full retirement age and SS payments. 2x SS payments plus a pension will probably provide more than they spend in a year, even if they ramp up travel (dad is still working, mom has a few weeks till retirement). In any event, I'm statistically likely to get a big inheritance in the next several decades that would significantly boost my FIRE stash.

But what's the point of waiting and planning on an inheritance that's unknown as to size, timing, or even existence (surviving parent goes senile, gets bamboozled by new young love or elder predator, finds religion in a casino and loses it all, etc). I hope my parents live till they're 110 and spend every dime (well, leave a few of them to cover the check to the undertaker so I'm not on the hook ).
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