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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

What can I accomplish by holding a family meeting?

I'm finding there is more and more interest by families in holding meetings to talk about estate planning. Parents want to involve their adult children in their planning, and vice versa. As families become more aware of the potential financial and emotional damage that can result from a contested estate, they want to learn about what they can do as a group to head off that kind of trouble.

I'll talk about family meetings in a series of blog posts, since there is too much to be said for just one post. Today I'd like to point out some of the benefits that you and your family might gain from holding a family meeting (or a series of family meetings). Some of those benefits are:

  • bringing interested family members together in a co-operative way

  • making it clear that estate planning is important to the whole group

  • clarifying and understanding your parents' goals for their estate

  • letting everyone have their say on issues that affect everyone

  • finding out in advance where problems are likely to arise so that you can head them off

  • supporting each other in a crisis

  • finding out about current urgent situations, such as a parent's failing health

  • finding out who is willing and able to provide different kinds of help

  • mapping out a co-operative solution to joint problems or issues, such as the cost of funding a parent's long-term care

  • sharing work that needs to be done

Keep an eye out for my upcoming book, "Estate Planning Through Family Meetings (Without Breaking up the Family)", which should be released in a matter of weeks. I'm really excited about it because I think it will really make it clear to people how much they can do in advance to head off future estate issues and to deal with current issues.

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