It’s an unfortunate, common tale that far too many of us have experienced firsthand. A loved one passes away, and in the aftermath, family chaos ensues. Bickering. Drama. Hurt feelings. Broken relationships. Legal battles.
In his book Splitting Heirs, Ron Blue suggests a simple but often neglected tactic for saving our children from a world of hurt when we go to be with the Lord. The solution? A family meeting.
A family meeting will pave the way for healthy dialogue about your values, goals and estate plans.
To be most effective, a family meeting may involve the help of a trusted advisor, attorney or family friend as a conversation facilitator. However, it may be as simple as sitting down with your adult children and/or grandchildren for an open, honest conversation.
Through a family meeting, you can…
- Teach, share and explain. “The family meeting gives your heirs a chance to hear from you – your heart, your wishes,” writes Blue. “It also gives them the permission and opportunity to ask questions.”
- Share wisdom. Discuss important financial principles with your children and grandchildren, such as budgeting, investing, saving and charitable giving.
- Unite family. Model your desire for the family to communicate openly and to be united rather than divided in difficult times.
- Manage expectations. Help everyone get on the same page to eliminate a “coping gap” (the difference between expectations and reality) for your heirs when they receive more or less from your plan than what they had expected.
Admittedly, for many, the idea of holding a family meeting is awkward at best – terrifying at worst.
But as Blue explains, it’s a key aspect of any effective estate plan. He writes, “You will have a family conference. It’s just a matter of whether you will be alive to attend. … Who can better discuss our motivations, hopes, desires and blessings with your family: you, or your lawyer reading your will?”
Ready to plan your family meeting?
Click below to download a free resource to help you host your own family meeting: “A Guide for Your Family Meeting”