Estate planning is important because it helps you put your affairs in order and designate how you want your estate to be handled after you pass away. As part of the estate planning process, you need to clearly and openly communicate your wishes to your heirs, particularly regarding wealth transfer. Holding a family meeting is an effective way to achieve this objective.
During the family meeting, you’ll share how you want your assets to be distributed, as well as your wishes and other intentions. Equally significant, you can explain why you’ve made these decisions. As your Advisor, I will help facilitate your family meeting, provide support and expertise, and keep the conversation focused and productive. This is also an opportunity for introductions with your heirs and for your family members to be comfortable working with our team.
5 common benefits of a family meeting
- Ensures transparency and clearly defines roles related to your estate plan, such as the executor (who manages your estate after you pass on) and powers of attorney (which are given to individuals to make decisions regarding your financial, physical or health care needs, should you become incapacitated).
- Helps avoid unpleasant surprises and potential conflict during the estate settlement process, which may promote stronger family cohesiveness and alleviate confusion at a likely stressful time.
- Helps you address complex circumstances. For example:
- You may be choosing to distribute your assets unequally among children
- You may be distributing assets (e.g., family cottage, investment property or business) that can have significant financial or emotional implications
- You may be in a second marriage or a blended family situation, and asset distribution could be complicated.
4. Allows you to articulate your philanthropic (legacy) goals and how they should be enacted, so family members are aware of your goals and what role they may play in executing your plans.
5. Provides peace of mind as your family members will understand your wealth transfer wishes and estate instructions while having a chance to discuss issues and voice their opinion before your estate documents are drafted.
Start the conversation
I will be at your side throughout the process, helping to organize, plan and facilitate your family meeting. Here are three tips to get the pre-meeting conversation going:
- Plan your family meeting as part of your estate strategy. We can work together to define your objectives and topics of discussion. I have the expertise and can share some best practices on how to approach sensitive topics.
- Decide who will participate in your family meeting. Who you invite depends on your personal circumstances. Often, participants are your spouse or partner, adult children, siblings or even close friends, since certain friends can be considered part of one’s family.
- Create a formal agenda outlining the topics of discussion. Sharing the agenda prior to your meeting will signal the importance of this meeting and allow participants to prepare questions.
Ultimately, based on your particular family dynamics, you’ll know best on how (or even if) you should hold a family meeting. It’s not easy to discuss estate matters with family, but I can serve as the “mediator” and help you navigate the challenges of holding a family meeting so you can ensure everyone is aligned regarding how you want your estate handled.
Let’s talk about preparing for your family meeting so we can ensure everything is in order and all your wealth transfer wishes are covered.