When you hold your family meeting, a bit of awkwardness is to be expected at first—after all, no one in your family (presumably) is likely eager to discuss what will happen when you die or in the event of incapacity. Remind everyone that is not just about death, it is also about life planning.

Likewise, you need to be prepared to talk through some of the choices you’ve made that are likely to generate some pushback. The end of the meeting is often more comfortable than the beginning. The following guidance can help you get there.

  • Plan the meeting after the holiday, if possible. If you’re gathering the family at a holiday like Christmas, try to arrange the actual meeting to take place after the holiday itself, so a potentially uncomfortable conversation doesn’t spoil any planned festivities.
  • Invite your financial advisor, estate planning attorney, and accountant to be in attendance. (More to this point to come — stay tuned on next blog posts).
  • Schedule the meeting in a quiet place that encourages candid conversation. A public place is probably not appropriate for this discussion. Your financial advisor or estate planning attorney might have access to space if you need it and prefer a “neutral” site over your living room.
    •  Set an agenda. Encourage open conversation, especially on any controversial points, but have a clear list of points to be covered, so you don’t forget anything in the midst of emotional moments.
    • Set a start and stop time. This step will help the meeting stay on track without meandering away from the main points.
    • Strike an inclusive tone. While you should not suggest that your decisions are open to challenge or discussion (it is your estate plan after all), try to convey that you are inviting the family to share your vision and goals. If you can get them on board with you at the outset, the risk of disputes will be significantly reduced later.
    • Arrange for child care. This meeting should be an adults-only gathering so everyone can participate without distractions from babies and children.
    • Set an agenda. Encourage open conversation, especially on any controversial points, but have a clear list of points to be covered, so you don’t forget anything in the midst of emotional moments.
    • Set a start and stop time. This step will help the meeting stay on track without meandering away from the main points.
    • Strike an inclusive tone. While you should not suggest that your decisions are open to challenge or discussion (it is your estate plan after all), try to convey that you are inviting the family to share your vision and goals. If you can get them on board with you at the outset, the risk of disputes will be significantly reduced later.

If you would like to know more or need help or guidance, email us at ysuarez@YSLawyers.com or call us at 305-456-7158. 

Yahima Suarez, Esq.
Yahima Suarez, PA
Life Planning & Beyond

Yahima Suarez
Yahima Suarez, J.D. Estate Planning for your Family