Preparing for Family Financial Responsibilities Across the Generations

The MetLife Mature Market Institute has released a series of planning tips,Preparing for Family Financial Responsibilities Across the Generations, to help Americans navigate family financial relationships. A follow-up to the organization's recent study, Multi-Generational Views on Family Financial Obligations, the document, available for download online, helps people determine how their sense of responsibility or desire to help children or parents translates into action. Can you or should you help your children or grandchildren financially? When do you stop supporting an adult child? Do your parents need financial assistance?

"We've prepared these tips to help people prioritize their family responsibilities and to learn how to meet them," said Sandra Timmermann, Ed.D., director of the MetLife Mature Market Institute. "In our study, we determined that people provide financial assistance to family members out of a combination of love and need. There is agreement that parents should support children through their college years, help with tuition (90%) and step in to provide financial assistance during an emergency – not of the child's doing. But, they stop short at paying all college tuition costs if they're particularly high. There is also a consensus against bailing adult children out of debt when the debt is from overspending. 

Image showing the Planning Tips for family financial Responsibilities  across the generations

"How do individuals determine when to help others and when to allow them to be independent? We found that people must examine their own financial status and make decisions about how to assist their family members based on their ability to do so, the real needs of their parents and children and a look down the road at how each party will be able to deal with change and unexpected pitfalls," said Timmermann.

Among the tips listed in the publications are the following:

  • Begin with an understanding of where you are in your life. Knowing your own assets, income, existing debt and obligations for the future will help you determine if you're in a position to help others.
  • Start with taking care of your own needs first. It is helpful to pay down debt and secure your retirement income before endeavoring to provide assistance to family members.
  • Reassess as you go along. Changes occur; be sure to continue to monitor your own financial picture.
  • Don't just give more…give for. If you decide you can give, do so with a stated goal or objective, especially those that are practical.
  • Make your legacy a family conversation, not a family secret! Open communication among the generations goes a long way toward avoiding feelings of suspicion, anxiety and resentment.

Click here to download a copy of Preparing for Family Financial Responsibilities Across the Generations or visit The full study, Multi-Generational Views on Family Financial Obligations, is also available for download online.

The MetLife Mature Market Institute®

Celebrating its 15-year anniversary in 2012, the MetLife Mature Market Institute is Metropolitan Life Insurance Company's (MetLife) center of expertise in aging, longevity and the generations and is a recognized thought leader by business, the media, opinion leaders and the public. The Institute's groundbreaking research, insights, strategic partnerships and consumer education expand the knowledge and choices for those in, approaching or working with the mature market. 

The Institute supports MetLife's long-standing commitment to identifying emerging issues and innovative solutions for the challenges of life. MetLife, Inc. is a leading global provider of insurance, annuities and employee benefit programs, serving 90 million customers. Through its subsidiaries and affiliates, MetLife holds leading market positions in the United States, Japan, Latin America, Asia, Europe and the Middle East. For more information, please visit:



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