'My rich parents won't share'
How open must you be with family members regarding your financial situation?
NEW YORK (Money) -- Question: I recently learned my parents have a lot more money than I thought. Had I known, I would have asked them for help in buying a home several years ago, back when houses around here were affordable.
Don't parents have some kind of obligation to be honest with their grown children about their financial situation? My wife and I may never be able to afford a house now.
Answer: So, has this experience inspired you to bring your relatives up to date on how much money you have, so that they'll know exactly how big a loan to call on you for? No? Well, perhaps your parents felt the same way.
We know you're disappointed that you missed out on buying a home when prices were lower. But the cold, hard truth is that no one - not even Mom and Dad - is obligated to reveal their net worth to others in their family.
Moreover, enough people make it a point to camouflage their finances that it's generally a bad idea to assume you know where anyone stands.
Bottom line: When you needed that loan, you should have asked your parents if they could help instead of assuming you knew what their answer would be.
Is it ever wrong for parents to allow their kids to think they have significantly less money than they do? Sure. Elderly parents need to be forthcoming about their financial resources with a trusted son or daughter they rely on for care. And placing a premium on privacy should never trump speaking up if, say, a grandchild needs expensive medical treatment.
But is it wrong per se? Not at all.
Recent questions answered: