How and When to Talk to
Your Children About Money
Whether you consider yourself wealthy or not, you need to think about how (and when) you’ll talk with your children about money.

Financial experts suggest the discussion should happen in three stages during the child’s lifetime. Here’s how these stages apply to your whole family wealth, regardless of how much—or how little—money you have at the moment.

Tweens and teens

The tween years (ages 10-12) are a good time to begin talking about family wealth. At this age, you should simply let your children know that family wealth is not just the money your family has—it involves all of the family resources. 

Time, energy, attention, and money (TEAM) are the key resources making up family wealth. It also involves your genetics, values, ancestry, connections, knowledge, and more. This is an ideal time to tell your kids the family story, discussing how you and their other relatives built the family wealth you have now, how decisions about wealth have been made among the generations, and how you hope decisions will be made in the future.

At this stage, you can also let your children know that one day you won’t be here, discussing your intentions about what you plan to pass on to them, as well as what they choose to do with their inheritance.

In their 20s

Once they’ve moved out, they should be thinking about their own wealth, including setting up legal documents so if something happens to them, you won’t get stuck in court or conflict. They also need to know if you plan to offer them financial assistance, along with the parameters of the assistance and why you’ve set things up this way.

If you haven’t already shared your estate plan with them—including where to find it, why you’ve made your decisions, and introduced them to your family lawyer—this is the time to do that, too.

In their 30s and 40s

By their 30s, your children should become fully involved in your family wealth, so this would be the perfect time to have a family meeting facilitated by us.

You can kick-start the meeting by reading a letter you’ve written outlining the hopes you have for your family wealth. Since you’ll likely be nearing or in retirement, it’s important to discuss the actual value of the family’s wealth. You never know how much time you have left to prepare your children to effectively manage their inheritance.

By now, you also want your children to know if they should plan to provide you financial support in your elder years. You can even start looking at how you can pass on what you have during your lifetime, instead of waiting until death. This way you can invest in creating more family wealth together.

As your Family Business Lawyer®, we can facilitate these discussions and provide estate planning strategies to help your children become creators of more family wealth. Indeed, we can help you set up structures that incentivize them to invest and grow their inheritance, rather than waste it.
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