The importance of family meetings

Feature_familyMtgsA tale of two families:

Family #1: A widowed mother had three adult children. The mother worked with her financial advisor and her estate planning attorney to plan for the transfer of her estate. Family meetings were held with the three children so they were all informed of her intentions. Upon her passing, her estate transferred seamlessly, as planned, and all three children were able to spend time celebrating her life rather than settling an estate over a long period of time.

Family #2: A widowed mother had four adult children. The mother had a basic estate plan, but there was never a facilitation of a family meeting to discuss what her intentions were. After three years, the estate has still not settled and the family relationships are damaged.

According to Bradley T. Klontz, Psy.D., CFP® and Stephen B. Yim, J.D. LLM, “When we don’t know a person’s true intentions, we make up a story. We then convince ourselves a story is true.”1 This is exactly what happened in Family #2, only multiplied by four children.

Too often families have meetings only after a life event occurs such a death or an incapacity. This leaves other family members with decisions that now need to be made in crisis mode.

Family financial meetings can serve as a tool to bring your family together to educate them on your current financial plan and your goals for the management of your wealth upon incapacity and demise.

Committing to an annual family meeting helps to create a format for collaborative decisions and creates awareness and comfort for family members knowing that a plan is in place today to allow for a smooth transition later.

8 tips for getting your family meeting process in motion:

  1. Decide who will facilitate the meeting.
    1. o Will it be you, your financial planner, CPA and/or estate planning attorney?
  2. Decide which family members (typically beneficiaries) and trusted advisors should be at the meeting.
  3. Select an agreed upon and comfortable location.
  4. Review the current financial plan with a highlight on the following areas:
    • Estate and incapacity plans
      1. • What is the purpose of the estate plan and who are the stakeholders?
      2. • Who are the trustees and successor trustees of the trust(s)?
      3. • Who is your durable power of attorney for financial and medical decisions?
    • Investment policy statement
      1. • Review the current investment strategy for the portfolio.
        This allows all stakeholders the opportunity to discuss the goals for the investments upon wealth transfer.
      2. Review current income sources and expenses
  5. The facilitator should prepare the agenda for the meeting.
  6. Communicate the location of important documents and passwords.
  7. Have open and respectful conversations.
  8. Don’t postpone: Set the date.

Contact us today to schedule a family meeting.

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