The season for gathering is upon us. A little more than half of those in the baby-boom generation plan to travel in 2021, according to an AARP survey, and 57% of them are planning a trip to spend time with loved ones. Which brings to mind an important topic: the family meeting.
Though it may seem daunting to start a conversation with your loved ones about your intentions for your family’s wealth and your plans for the future, this dialogue – shared in a quiet moment, not around the Thanksgiving dinner table – can be a key way to get ahead of potential conflict over your estate and wishes.
Here are some potential topics to cover.
Family values. Talk about the legacy you’d like to leave in nonfinancial terms. Many families value hard work and integrity as antidotes to a sense of entitlement. Offer examples from your life story about how you’ve lived your values.
Inheritance. Telling your adult children the broad outlines of how you plan to divide your estate can help them get a clearer picture. Maybe you’ve set aside money to help the next generation reach their educational goals. Perhaps you want heirs to know not to expect a windfall because your wealth is earmarked for charity. Whatever the case may be, it’s better to make sure there are no surprises, though you don’t have to disclose everything at once. It can be useful to talk about legacy in a general sense to lay the groundwork.
Charitable giving. Consider developing a mission statement together so you all know what values you hope to promote through philanthropy.
Practical considerations. This is your opportunity to communicate who you have chosen to act on your behalf in the event you cannot do so. Make sure the person you’ve selected (from executor to power of attorney) is up for the job and that they know where to find your important documents and contact list. For further insight, read this recent article about securing your family’s legacy.
By keeping your family updated, with or without an objective guide present to facilitate the conversation, you are taking the first step toward the future you desire.