Multigenerational Families and their Finances

Multigenerational families, defined as “three or more generations of parents and their families,” are on the rise in the U.S.  According to the Census Bureau there are nearly four million multigenerational families in the U.S. and that number is rapidly increasing.  Since 1990 the number of multigenerational families increased by nearly 60 percent. 

If you or a loved one is part of a multigenerational family, that living situation most likely occurred in one of two ways – either your family moved in with a grandparent(s) or you moved in with an adult child and his or her family.  Most multigenerational households (65%) are the result of adult children and their families moving in with an older parent; 33% of the time the grandparent moves in with his or her children and grandchildren, and the remaining two percent of multigenerational family situations are when four generations (great-grandparents, grandparents, parents and their children) come to live together.  

Mutigenerational families span every ethnic group and form for a wide variety of reasons.  In addition to immigration, the combination of an increasingly difficult economy, a lack of affordable housing nationwide and an aging baby boomer population signals that more multigenerational families are likely to form. 

If you are a part of a multigenerational family, or if you and your extended family members are considering merging households, there are several issues you should think through and make plans for.

What types of questions should you, as a family, discuss and reach agreement on to ensure the best possible situation for everyone involved?