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Fidelity survey: Go to mom to talk money matters

Who's better at getting a family to talk about money matters, mom or dad? Taking sides probably won't make for a harmonious Mother's Day celebration on Sunday.

Yet, a survey of 975 parents by a financial services company found that mothers clearly have the upper hand over fathers in getting the discussion started with their adult children. While all families are different, moms are often the ones who encourage conversation about such important topics as financial security in retirement, caring for an elder, and estate planning, according to survey results released Tuesday by Fidelity Investments.

"Moms are more likely and open to having deep, detailed discussions," said Lauren Brouhard, a senior vice president for retirement with Fidelity's personal investing business.

"Starting the discussion with mom may be a good strategy," given how awkward such conversations can be, she said.

Key findings from the Boston-based company include:

Seventy percent of the mothers aged 55 and older who were surveyed reported they'd had comprehensive discussions with their adult children about their ability to cover living expenses in retirement, versus 55 percent of fathers.

Seventy-nine percent of the moms had discussed estate planning or wills with their adult children, compared with 69 percent of fathers.

Sixty-four percent of mothers said it is "not at all difficult" to start a conversation with an adult child about savings and investing, versus 54 percent of fathers.

When asked privately about these hard-to-discuss topics, survey participants offered widely varying views on whether their families were discussing money matters in sufficient detail, if they were having the conversations at all.

In many instances, adult children who participated in the surveys "felt that the conversations were not happening at the level of depth required," Brouhard said. "What's really important is that these not just be surface discussions. Nobody wants surprises down the road, so it's important that they have these conversations now, when they're not reacting to some financial or health emergency."

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