At Stepp & Sullivan, our Texas estate planning attorneys know that talking to your adult children about end-of-life plans is a difficult task.
Families notoriously avoid conversations about death, especially when their parents are healthy — even though that is the best time to have candid conversations about their wishes and how they should be fulfilled once they are no longer around to dictate their plans.
Our skilled will and trust attorneys believe no matter the amount of wealth that a family has, end-of-life education is crucial to the family’s overall finances, which allows everyone to prepare for the future and to become good stewards of an inheritance.
That is where a family meeting about estate planning becomes important.
Here are a few ways to make the conversation less grim, and more informative for everyone involved.
Prepare to Have a Family Meeting by Starting with One-On-One Conversations
Whether you are a single parent or have been married for 50 years, getting all your children in one room can be a difficult task especially when they live in different states.
Before you schedule an in-person or online group meeting, talk to each adult child separately, so they are not blindsided by the conversation.
Putting everyone in the same room and announcing, “We want to talk to you all about our Will” may be met with resistance, as adult children often believe talking about end-of-life plans helps usher in the inevitable.
Instead, have a direct phone or in-person conversation with each adult child, and tell them you want everyone to be informed about your wishes, and that you would like to have a family meeting.
Get a few dates in line that work for everyone and set a time.
Keep the Conversation Focused by Thoroughly Planning the Family Meeting
Creating a clear agenda helps define the purpose and goals of the family estate planning meeting.
Provide each person in attendance with a copy, whether it is printed or electronic, so you can focus on each point, encourage participation, and keep the meeting on track.
When the planning includes an education component, adult children feel more engaged in the process.
That could include outlining your financial standing, current and future budgeting, savings and investments, and any philanthropic interests, so everyone understands why this conversation is so important.
An experienced Houston estate planning attorney can help you put together an outline that allows your adult children to understand the scope of your estate, so they are involved in making sure your wishes are carried out later.
Invite a Neutral Third Party or Facilitator to Maintain Control of the Meeting
Estate planning meetings can easily deviate into emotional circumstances, as the conversation focuses on Wills or Trusts, which are ultimately viewed as talks about death.
The reality is, when your beneficiaries are not on the same page about who is the Power of Attorney or Executor of the estate, complications can arise, which leads to the individual or couple’s wishes being ignored because of a dispute.
Adding a third party, which could be a relative, attorney, investment professional, or another trusted advisor, can help manage the agenda, offer a different perspective, calm emotions, and make certain that everyone is heard and understood.
Provide Homework for the Attendees & Set the Next Family Meeting Date
Typically, the first family meeting about estate planning is overwhelming for everyone involved, which means some members may feel as though their voices were not heard.
Be sure to give everyone time to digest the information provided during the meeting or allow them to read the Will and Trust on their own time, ask questions, and provide feedback during the next meeting.
Set specific expectations, and continue to bring the family together, so informed decisions are made and clear instructions about your wishes are understood.
Contact Our Experienced Estate Planning Attorneys in Texas to Discuss Your Needs
If you would like help ensuring you are making the best estate planning decisions for your family, contact our will and trust attorneys today at 713-336-7200 or online to learn more about the legal requirements necessary to establish your legacy without leaving a single detail to chance.