This October Bedel Financial hosted our “Meet the Expert” event featuring Bob Mauterstock, CFP®, who addressed the importance of a family meeting. What would your family do if something happened to you? Do your heirs know your wishes, where to find your estate planning documents, who’s in charge, and where they can go for help? If the answer is no, you’re not alone. Only 25 percent of retiring parents have discussed their plan with their children.
Here are Bob’s “Eight Steps to a Family Meeting that Works.”
#1 Designate the family champion.
If you have an adult child who keeps the family connected, recruit this child to help everyone understand the importance of the family meeting and secure their promises to attend.
#2 Identify a facilitator.
This should be someone who has no emotional attachment to any decisions that will be made - not a family member. It’s the facilitator’s job to encourage an environment of mutual respect and keep the meeting non-confrontational. The facilitator will work with all family members to ensure everyone’s questions and concerns are addressed and that a plan is developed to help the parents make decisions in their later years.
#3 Create an agenda.
Make a list of your insurance policies and assets - you don’t have to share asset values - along with the contact information for those accounts. Consider starting the family meeting with a legacy letter detailing your successes, failures, traditions, the things that are important to you and how you would like to be remembered.
#4 Share the responsibility.
This is an ideal time to discuss who will execute the roles of personal representative, trustee, financial power of attorney, and health care power of attorney as well as what each job entails.
#5 Have respect and compassion.
Share your thoughts, in a non-confrontational way, regarding a realistic course of action for when your parents need assistance. Real estate - especially what to do with the family vacation home - can be a hot button issue. Be open-minded.
#6 Assign a scribe.
Get a family member to take notes in order to document topics discussed, decisions made, and outstanding actions.
#7 Review and assign items.
At the end of the meeting, assign any open action items that need to be researched and completed to appropriate family members.
#8 Establish a communication plan.
Determine how to communicate follow-up on action items. Schedule a meeting for six months after the initial family meeting so everyone can report on what’s been completed and what items are outstanding.
Bedel Financial advisors have facilitated numerous financial meetings and we would be happy to help you prepare for the family meeting, facilitate any discussion topics, and assist in follow-up and implementation. Please contact your financial advisor if you are ready to move forward. Learn More about Our Process