Why It's Vital to Open Difficult Conversations

Why are death and inheritance so hard to talk about?

Social custom teaches us that it’s rude to pry into our parents’ affairs or to raise subjects with our children that will make them uncomfortable.  Death and money to us are what sex was to the Victorians, uncomfortable and impolite to discuss, but with repercussions that make conversation necessary.

Home Instead Senior Care, a national provider of home care services, coined a name for this very important conversation – the 40-70 Rule. It means that children who have reached age 40 or whose parents are 70 need to start discussions about expectations and responsibilities regarding living arrangements, driving habits, health concerns and financial matters as the parents age.


The reluctance to talk goes both ways.  Boomers don’t want to be perceived as greedy or impolite if they raise the subject about their parents’ financial resources and inheritance issues. They don’t want to intrude on parents’ privacy and autonomy or perceived as waiting for their parents to die.

Their parents are often more willing to discuss end of life issues but are fearful of the emotional minefield of inheritance disclosure to children. Even though they know it’s important for their children not to be surprised after they die, parents still hesitate to initiate conversations about their plans and end-of-life preferences.


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Conversations between parents and children about money