Posted by Robert L. Arone
Along with warmer weather and lazy days spent at the pool, summertime also often includes a family gathering, such as a Fourth of July barbecue, a family vacation, a reunion, or time spent at a family cabin or lake house. Whatever the form, in our always-on-the-go society, getting the whole family together is a rare occurrence. Clients should take advantage of this time together to discuss their estate and financial wishes with their families. As an advisor, you can help facilitate and encourage this discussion in the following ways.
Meet Your Client’s Trusted Decision Makers Now
You can encourage a client to discuss their estate and financial plans with their family by offering to meet with your client and their trusted decision makers now. Clients often select adult children to act in trusted decision-making roles, such as a successor trustee, executor or personal representative, or agent under a financial power of attorney. By meeting these trusted decision makers now before they are needed, you can begin to develop a relationship with them and be an advisor that the family feels comfortable turning to for guidance when needed. Summertime, when family comes to visit, is the perfect time to have this meeting.
As part of this meeting, you can review the client’s important documents with the trusted decision makers so that they know what the client’s wishes are and how they should be carried out when the time comes. You can also answer any questions the client or the decision makers have about the client’s plan or their roles.
Have a Family Meeting
Another way you can help your client have a family discussion about their estate and financial plans is to offer to meet with your client’s entire family and conduct a family meeting. Clients often feel that they lack the skill set or knowledge to explain the sometimes complicated legal and financial concepts involved in their plans. After all, it is one thing to understand a concept when it is explained to you but quite another to try to explain the concept to someone else.
A client may also feel uncertain about how their family will react to their estate and financial plans. Having their advisor, an unrelated and objective party, there to explain the client’s plans and the benefits of those plans and answer any questions or concerns that their family members may have can remove some of the emotional upset or criticism that could emerge.
By offering to attend and conduct a family meeting, you can reduce or eliminate your client’s fears about explaining their estate and financial plans to their family. You can also be invaluable in helping the client determine the best format for this family meeting. For example, should the family meeting be siblings only, or should in-laws also be included? Should the family meeting include grandchildren? Your knowledge of your client’s family dynamics and plans will be extremely useful in determining the best format for the family meeting.
Summertime is a common time for families to get together. Encourage your clients to take advantage of this time to discuss their estate and financial wishes with their families by offering to meet with their trusted decision makers or to conduct a family meeting. Doing so is a great way to provide added value to your clients. Please reach out to us if you need assistance discussing these ideas with your clients or hosting a meeting.