Expecting family home for the holidays? You may not realize it, but this is a great opportunity to carve out some time to discuss what is important to your family. In some households, money and estate planning can be somewhat taboo, but you don’t want to miss out on the chance to discuss your financial planning while everybody is together.
Setting aside a formal time for a family meeting provides the opportunity to have a designated, focused discussion about important family matters, rather than having ad hoc conversations with separate family members. Including everyone as a group minimizes hurt feelings, and avoids the perception of favoritism while creating a united family environment.
Talking about finances can be a difficult conversation to have, but it can also bring your family closer together. These meetings allow families to formalize family values and use those values as a driving force behind financial decisions. Use this time to discuss questions like:
- What does our family stand for?
- What are the collective goals of our family?
- What does our family value most?
- What issues are important to each of us individually?
You should talk about your family’s values because values drive behavior—including when it comes to money. A careful dialog around these questions can lead a family to have a meaningful conversation about the family’s resources and legacy goals, which can help make future financial decisions easier. Discussing these issues now will give you a ready-built framework when tough or unexpected financial decisions are made, so it’s better to talk these things through before the need arises.
Although it’s not necessary to discuss every detail of your financial situation, it could be beneficial to talk to your children about both your struggles and successes. Doing so gives them an idea of the realities of financial milestones and helps set the stage for them to achieve their own financial security.
Topics discussed could include paying off debt, your upcoming retirement or other financial goals. One particular topic that you want to make sure you address while your family is all together is your estate plan. Having everyone together allows you to explain what your estate plan entails and the reasoning behind the decisions you made, but it also gives your loved ones a chance to explain what’s going on in their own financial life.
For example, you may not have realized that one of your children has a higher mortgage or student loan debt than you initially thought and they could benefit from a higher financial (rather than material) inheritance. Or, maybe you find out one of your children is in a higher tax bracket, so you might want to consider reshuffling your estate plan to minimize the taxes they’ll owe upon inheritance—ensuring more of your wealth stays with your loved ones.
As difficult as it may be, clear communication now can save your loved ones from headaches down the road. That’s why you should think twice before letting a holiday family gathering opportunity slip by without setting aside some time to discuss your family’s financial future. Getting everyone in the same location at the same time could be the most difficult part of the meeting, but if you need more assistance, your financial advisor can help. They can act as an unbiased third party mediator, help create actionable steps or explain complex concepts to your family. Whatever support you need, your Wealth Enhancement Group financial advisor is there to help simplify your financial life.
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.
Peter joined the financial services industry following a successful career in sales, applying this experience to provide a high level of customer service to his clients. His focus is on guiding individuals through retirement by managing their cash flow, retirement lifestyle choices, charitable giving goals and estate planning objectives, ultimately working to anticipate risks and simplify their financial life.