In today’s fast-paced world, it’s easy to put off important conversations with your family, especially when they concern money. However, family meetings are crucial to managing household finances, setting short- and long-term financial goals, and developing estate plans for future wealth transfer.
Gathering your family to discuss these crucial topics can really help alleviate worries about “what if” scenarios, as well as:
- Set expectations for the future care of aging family members,
- Review details and specifics of your estate plan,
- Discuss plans for transferring wealth to the next generation.
However, family meetings may also generate stress due to differences in individual perspectives and goals. Certain topics can feel uncomfortable to discuss, but family meetings are essential for financial plan maintenance and continuing the family legacy.
Here are ten tips to help you survive your family’s meeting:
- Be prepared.Always enter the meeting prepared with information regarding your family’s financial situation. Be equipped with all necessary paperwork, including bank statements, insurance policies, income statements, and investment information. Be ready to review wills and trust documents, Power of Attorney (POA), and other legal documents. Preparing (and then sharing) financial information for the family meeting can help foster an environment of trust and transparency.
- Set an agenda.Determine which items you should discuss in the family meeting to help stay on track and prevent the conversation from spiraling into sensitive or non-productive areas. Focus on crucial components like life insurance, wills, budget review, expense management, care plans, saving goals, and investment strategies. Depending on how long (or short) you want the meeting to be, consider breaking up topics into different sessions, saving estate & legacy planning for the final discussion.
- Actively listen.Make a conscious effort to listen to what others say during the family meeting. Active listening shows respect for others’ viewpoints, helps engage everyone in the discussion, and contributes to the overall understanding of goals and needs.
- Communicate respectfully.Respect should be the cornerstone of family meetings. Use a polite and considerate tone of voice to convey your thoughts and avoid criticism, which can hurt feelings and possibly lead to family disputes.
- Involve everyone.Being inclusive helps promote a sense of responsibility among all family members. Include children, when appropriate, to help educate them about money matters and instill financial discipline from an early age. Select who will be the financial POA, medical POA, trustee, and so forth, and notify all family members of everyone’s role to help ensure there is no confusion or surprises.
- Be realistic.When setting estate planning and wealth transfer goals, be realistic. While ambitious goals may feel fulfilling, unrealistic goals can lead to disappointment and family friction. Keep a practical approach as you work together to maintain assets and a healthy financial environment for your family.
- Practice patience. Maintain patience and keep your emotions in check. Heated discussions can quickly escalate into arguments. Stay calm, especially when talking about complex or contentious financial issues.
- Review regularly.Set a schedule for ongoing family meetings as the family works toward transferring wealth to the next generation. Discuss long-term care plans, review budgets, and discuss any changes in income or expenses to the estate. Consistent and recurring review helps keep everyone abreast of the current financial situation and makes it easier to handle unexpected financial circumstances.
- Seek professional advice.It’s essential to seek advice from financial, legal, and tax professionals due to complex monetary issues or if a stalemate occurs during the family discussion. Working with a team of professionals can help guide you when making decisions that will impact your family; we’ll work in tandem with your tax and legal counselors to ensure all elements are in harmony with each other. And we’re here to support you however you need, with financial information, resources, or as a mediator at your meetings.
- Celebrate financial confidence. Family meetings can be a time to celebrate! When those involved feel a sense of achievement and demonstrate responsible fiscal behavior, it benefits future generations. And when everyone’s on board with estate planning, the wealth transfer should be smoother.
Practicing the above ten tips can help family meetings become more productive, creating a sense of shared responsibility and a pathway toward financial confidence. We’d love to help you get the conversation started – reach out if we can be of assistance.
Courtesy of Fresh Finance.