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Now’s the time to talk turkey about family finances

How many hard conversations about money have you had with your partner this holiday season? In some cases, it may have gotten tense. And just imagine trying to broach the topic of money with your parents, in-laws and children, over a holiday turkey.

You might prefer to talk about sex.

But now more than ever, it's imperative to talk about the entire family's finances.

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Some people will be financially responsible for their parents' and their childrens' financial well-being, the so-called "sandwich generation." Others might be banking on an assumed inheritance that might not exist.

And beyond the purely financial reasons, there are other important factors to consider. You might be preparing to have mom and dad move in to live with you one day, but perhaps they would actually prefer to move into a retirement home. That might be a relief for your family dynamic, but a strain to your pocketbook.

Every family will have unique circumstances and challenges, but a common problem is that few families really know what any of those things are ahead of time. That makes it harder to plan for anything.

Holiday get-togethers can be stressful enough without throwing heavy conversations about money into the fold. But assuming you can schedule an adult get together another time, many will still forgo inter-generational financial planning.

We all know that more than one family has been ripped apart after the reading of a will, unbeknownst and against the intentions of the departed. An ounce of prevention can be worth a pound of cure.

If you have a good financial planner, I would suggest getting them involved. They can act as an objective third party and can ensure the ball gets, and keeps, rolling. They can facilitate the tough conversations because that's what they do. Of course, with faith in financial advisers far from ubiquitous, many families might feel they would be better off handling things themselves, which might just lead to procrastination.

READERS: Is it better to talk with family about money after the holidays are over? Or should you get it done before the New Year? Also, what advice can you offer others on how to broach the subject?

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About the Author
Personal Finance columnist

Preet Banerjee is a consultant to the financial services industry. You can follow him on twitter at  @PreetBanerjee. You can find his conflict of interest disclosure on his website. More


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