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Family retirement, inheritance conversations lost in translation

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Retirement planning, elder care and wills are touchy subjects for most people, but they’re especially rife with anxiety, miscommunication and disagreements for parents and their adult children, according to a new report.

The majority of both groups -- aging parents and their children -- say they feel more comfortable talking about future financial decisions with third-party financial professionals than with each other, according to a survey by Fidelity Investments.

On the topic of whether the children will care for the parents if they fall ill, 97% of nearly 1,000 people surveyed had opinions that conflicted with those of the other generation.

When estimating the value of their parents’ estates, children came up $100,000 short on average, according to the report. Three in 10 parents said they didn't want their offspring to rely on a potential inheritance, while 40% of children said it wasn’t their business to ask about bequests.

And although 97% of parents said they wouldn’t need financial help in retirement, 24% of children begged to differ.

The vast majority – 95% -- of parents and grown-up children say they’ve discussed such affairs, but only about 1 in 10 of the children say the conversations were very detailed.

Demographic and economic shifts mean that parents are living longer and are often planning to spend their savings on themselves instead of leaving a parachute for their descendants.

“Whether it’s a parent facing a shortfall in retirement income or an adult child weighing the tax implications of an inheritance, too often discussing these issues is considered taboo within families, but real emotional and financial consequences emerge when such conversations don’t happen or lack sufficient depth,” Kathleen Murphy, Fidelity’s president of personal investing, said in a statement.

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Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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