It seems the more money parents have, the more their children demand.

Nearly 20 percent of affluent parents intend to support offspring into their 30s and beyond, and wealthy millennials expect to offer their adult children greater financial support than prior generations.

That’s the big takeaway from the Affluent Family Finances Survey, a 12-page report from a digital wealth management firm called Personal Capital. The firm commissioned a poll of more than 1,000 U.S. parents across three generations with household investable assets of $500,000 or more. At the top end, the survey also included respondents worth millions of dollars.

The poll reveals that wealth-sharing methods vary greatly, depending on the generation distributing the funds. However, it did find one theme of agreement: “More money comes with more demands.”

Millennials plan to be especially generous: “Millennials plan to give their children an unprecedented level of financial support not experienced by prior generations.”

Around  90 percent of affluent millennials surveyed (compared to 69 percent surveyed overall) reported their children will expect them to pay for college, a wedding and even a home. In fact, 70 percent (compared to 48 percent surveyed overall) said they would save for their child’s college education over for their own retirement if need be.

Overall, millennial parents are three times more likely to pay the entire cost of their child’s house and twice as likely to plop down a full down payment. But millennials aren’t alone in their generosity when it comes to giving their kids a leg up on adulthood.

Affluent parents plan to extend parental financial support to their children for at least a decade or two beyond college age…

  • 19 percent plan to support their children into the child’s 30s or beyond.
  • 54 percent, or 68 percent for parents with $3 million or more in investable assets, have helped or plan to help their child financially when that child buys a home.
  • 45 percent have paid or expect to pay some or all of their child’s rent, with 18 percent planning to pay the entire amount.

Here’s the breakdown for affluent parents who plan to pay $100,000 or more for their child’s undergraduate education:

  • Millennial parents: 56 percent
  • Gen X parents: 42 percent
  • Baby Boomers: 23 percent

So, what can we learn from these findings on how the wealthy distribute their money to their kids and how that affects future generations?

Going by the survey findings, it appears that the more money affluent parents give their children, the more those children expect to receive. Then when the children become parents, they place even greater demands on their own financial obligations to their kids.

That’s a lot of increasing pressure on subsequent generations.

It’s a good idea to talk openly about finances with your adult children so everyone is clear on what to expect, says Personal Capital CEO Jay Shah. While the survey finds that 97 percent of affluent parents plan to leave their kids an inheritance, it also finds that 22 percent plan never to reveal their net worth to their children. And the more wealth the parents have, the more tight-lipped they become.

“Affluent parents, across generations, are feeling increasing pressure from their children to provide longer term support, yet they’re still uncomfortable talking about their finances,” says  Shah.

Millennials are most affected by the pressure of financial secrecy.

“There are financial choices millennial parents will make for their children. And then there are the choices parents think their children want them to make,” according to the survey. “Millennial parents think their children have even higher expectations than those raised by Gen X and Baby Boomers.”

While it’s easier to finance your child’s college education, pay his or her rent or buy the kid’s whole family a house when you’re wealthy, the lesson for all income levels is that talking openly about your finances could save everyone in the family from a lot of pressure and unnecessary guilt about who expects what when it comes to financial support.

“The first step is for families to start conversations about family finances and legacy planning,” Shah says.

Meet the Author

Deb Hipp

Deb Hipp


Hipp is a freelance writer based out of Missouri.



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Article last modified on September 4, 2018 Published by, LLC . Mobile users may also access the AMP Version: "Affluent" Parents Will Support Their Children — For Decades - AMP.