A family meeting can be beneficial to estate planning and execution.
What comes to mind when you think of having a family meeting?
Perhaps you envision the time where your parents told you and your siblings of an upcoming move.
Maybe you remember your parents announcing their divorce.
Family meetings can trigger feelings of intense anxiety.
According to a recent Kiplinger article titled “It’s Never Too Late for a Family Meeting – Here’s How to Do Them Well,” these meetings are not always negative.
In instances where estate planning is involved, a family meeting can provide a sense of peace, security, and understanding among all members.
They can be beneficial in explaining values, sharing stories, and setting goals between generations.
Without the gathering of family members together, explaining roles and responsibilities regarding wealth and stewardship can be a greater challenge.
Despite its importance, a family meeting does not just happen.
It takes work to make the time fruitful.
What steps should you take now to ensure a successful family meeting?
Your loved ones may be hesitant to gather together if they do not see the purpose.
People lead busy lives, and it seems they are only getting more hectic.
Explain the reasons for the meeting as well as why it is important they be present.
Consider sharing a written agenda to outline the topics you will be covering.
This will give your loved ones an opportunity to prepare themselves emotionally.
Conversations can easily be derailed when there is a gathering of strong personalities.
Again, by creating an that agenda you can keep your family meeting focused on your purpose for gathering not on personalities.
Sharing the agenda in advance and selecting a neutral location can ease nerves about discussing important topics related to estate planning.
If other questions or topics are raised, arrange to address these at future meetings.
Control the agenda and the setting.
Have time for learning.
By adding an educational component to your meeting, you can equip your loved ones to better manage their own personal finances and any future inheritances.
Possible educational topics include budgeting, estate planning, investing, saving, or charitable giving.
Use a facilitator.
Some families are not able to get through a simple conversation, much less a family meeting, without heated arguments arising.
If this describes your loved ones, it may be beneficial to ask one of your professional advisors to facilitate the discussion.
Many families ask their estate planning attorney to quarterback the discussion, along with their financial advisor and accountant.
The number of “cooks” involved in the meeting will vary depending on the complexity of your family and financial “soup,” which varies from family to family.
At the end of your time together, recap what was discussed and set expectations for future gatherings.
By taking these steps now, you can set up your family meeting for success and your family to successfully inherit your legacy later.
Reference: Kiplinger (Sep. 1, 2021) “It’s Never Too Late for a Family Meeting – Here’s How to Do Them Well”