FAMILY MEETINGS AND SECURING YOUR LEGACY
A Family Meeting can be an effective component of Estate Planning. If you have a complex Estate or you will be creating an imbalance in the division of your assets amongst your children, a Family Meeting can be useful in helping the family to understand the ins and outs of your Estate and the decisions you are making.
Often this understanding helps enormously in ensuring the smooth Administration of your Estate at the time of your death and can aid in the circumvention of a challenge to your Will by one or more of your children.
To be effective a Family Meeting needs to include all of your children and their spouses or partners. If your grandchildren are also going to be a significant part of the Estate then including those who are age of majority would be well advised.
Having your lawyer and accountant present at the meeting can have particularly useful benefits as this may well be the first time that your children will have met them and vice versa. Being able to put a face to a name helps to build a solid relationship. Additionally, your lawyer and accountant will be able to explain in some depth the uniqueness, legalities and financial impacts of your Estate so that everyone has a clear understanding of the process that will need to be taken upon your death to ensure that your Estate is Administered in concert with your final wishes, expediently and with as little discord as is humanely possible during what will invariably be an emotionally difficult period for your family.
Setting up a Family Meeting can be easily accomplished if you and your children are emotionally in sync and you live within easy travel distance of each other. Beginning the meeting over breakfast or lunch will help the family, your accountant and lawyer get to know one another. As the meal winds down this is the cue to ease everyone from a relaxed gathering into a business state of mind. Simply pick a mutually convenient date, time and location then send out the invitations.
If there is discord within the family then having an impartial individual set up the Family Meeting at a neutral location will be less stressful and more productive with those family members not getting on well at this moment far more likely to listen to the proposal and then agree to participate. In this instance your lawyer may be the best source for helping to set up and host the meeting. It may not be appropriate to “break bread” in this instance but having light refreshments available is always well received.
Feel free to contact us at any point for assistance or advice with respect to Estate Law, Estate Planning, Estate Administration or Estate Litigation. We may be reached at 705-435-4339 / 1-877-85LEGAL (1-877-855-3425) or contact us via email.