You don’t have to be a blended family with a bunch of teenagers under one roof to need a family meeting (though it could certainly help if that’s your situation). They are especially useful for families in business together, with jointly owned assets, and those who are addressing estate-planning decisions. Any family seeking to enhance its relationships could benefit from a family meeting; in fact, they’re helpful for families of all shapes and sizes.
As in so many other matters in life, communication is key when it comes to estate planning. In a very real sense, the entirety of an estate plan – from the advance health directives covering your end-of-life decisions down to the distribution of your assets – is all about communication. Not all decisions, however, are easily and clearly communicated in writing. For many, this means holding a “family meeting.”
If the term “family meeting” conjures little more than memories of classic TV shows, (e.g., the “Brady Bunch”), then you are not alone.
As addressed in a recent article on WealthManagement.com titled “Family Meetings Come of Age,” the family meeting can be a very useful forum for estate planning. A family meeting, whatever that may mean for you and your loved ones, represents a conscious act to come together and openly communicate.
All families are different, too. The family meeting for one family may be more of a means to relay information, while for another family there may be more collaboration on the planning itself.
In the end, as long as there is something to communicate, there is value to the family meeting. As the original article notes, it is really up to you and your loved ones to shape the event together.