As the holidays approach, many families look forward to the opportunity for multiple generations to come together to share a meal and celebrate the season. This is a time to take a break from the everyday routines of school and work, to share old memories and create new ones.
Many people make plans to discuss estate planning and other financial arrangements during this time of togetherness. These conversations have the potential to be awkward for a variety of reasons. It forces people to consider their mortality, it brings up family dynamics that may be uncomfortable, and discussions of personal finances can feel intrusive. In fact, surveys show that the majority of Americans rarely discuss estate planning with their families.
To avoid what may seem inappropriate conversation as the turkey is being passed, we encourage our clients to schedule a family estate planning meeting facilitated by MendenFreiman.
What Are the Benefits of a Family Meeting?
A family meeting gathers together the members of a family involved in an estate plan and gives individuals the opportunity to explain their desires and final wishes. This helps prevent future confusion and misunderstandings among family members. In addition, family members have the opportunity to ask questions so they better understand why certain decisions were made. While these questions may involve sensitive topics, discussing them now, while there is still an opportunity, can lead to understanding and acceptance of the choices that were made.
A family meeting at MendenFreiman also provides an opportunity to meet our attorneys and build a rapport with them which will make it easier to work together when the time comes to put an estate plan into action.
How Does a Family Meeting Work?
Ideally, a family meeting should take place after the estate plan has been finalized and the appropriate documents have been signed. The plan will be presented to the family, with the help of our attorneys, so everyone understands their roles in ensuring final wishes are carried out. This does not require a disclosure of the value of assets or other specific financial information. Instead, a family meeting gives everyone a general sense of how items should be handled and what roles each family member will play.
Family meetings benefit from structure. The meeting may get emotional, so setting a concrete agenda beforehand can ensure everything is adequately covered. Similarly, placing firm boundaries on the length of the meeting can help everyone stay on track. To garner full attention, family meetings often work best if limited only to adults who can understand the meeting’s purpose.
Schedule a Family Meeting
The holidays offer the promises of a delicious feast, gifts, and conversations with family and friends. It is also a unique opportunity to discuss some important estate planning issues while everyone is together. Those interested in scheduling a family meeting to discuss their estate plan should contact MendenFreiman today.