Multigenerational Planning: How to Talk About Estate Planning at Your Family Reunion

If you’re getting together with family this summer, time could be ripe for a discussion about family legacy. Do mom and dad have plans for the family home? Is there joint planning that could be done to finance all the grandchildren’s education? Do mom and dad want to retire closer to aunt and uncle, so they can enjoy each other’s company in a way they weren’t able to when everyone was working? Whatever the questions you wish to address, here are some tips for bringing up the topic.

Invite Your Loved Ones in Advance 

Instead of waiting for the perfect opportunity to spontaneously bring up the topic, reach out to your relatives in advance and let them know that you would like to set time aside during the reunion to talk about your family’s legacy. Invite them to cooperate in creating a plan that will mutually care for all family members, and lay the foundation for the safety and comfort of future generations. 

Everyone likes to feel that they’re being looked after and that their input is valued. Any ongoing concerns, such as an aging relative’s declining memory or an upcoming surgery, are great lead-ins to bring up the topic in a natural way.

If anyone is resistant to the idea of talking about estate planning, there’s no need to push. Instead, keep your energy warm and empathetic, and leave the invitation open in case they change their mind.

Set a Time and Place 

Setting a specific time and place creates a safe container for everyone. Those who want to attend do, those who don’t don’t. A specific end time gives everyone the assurance that this is a limited topic for discussion during a limited time period. If you think it would be helpful, you can set boundaries for the conversation to encourage participation, allow time for all voices, or stay on topic.

To make things even easier, come to the meeting with a list of the most important points you’d like to cover and encourage your family members to do the same. But keep the list short so you don’t go over the time you’ve set aside for the discussion.

If there are too many things to cover in the time allotted, that’s okay. Talk about the most important topics and agree as a family to get together again on another specific date – in person, on the phone, or via video chat – to continue the discussion.

Be Vulnerable 

Honesty goes a long way. Starting any discussion about a difficult topic with your own reasons for wanting to address that topic at this moment is a great way to pave the road for open, heartfelt discussion. Maybe you’re concerned about mom’s growing forgetfulness and the possibility of scams targeting the elderly. Maybe you’re worried about paying for the kids’ upcoming college education. Maybe your family is lucky enough to own several homes and you’d like to ensure that future generations can retain the family properties and continue to afford the property tax payments. Almost any reason is a good reason for planning, especially if your focus is on supporting the family.

It may also be helpful to share that addressing these issues now is a good way to avoid future conflict and expense. When family members don’t clearly understand the reasoning behind one another’s planning choices, conflict, resentment, and even costly future legal battles become more likely. 

Instead, tell your loved ones that you’d like to start the conversation about estate planning early and continue it as an open dialogue within the family. Positioning the conversation as one about planning for the future health and well-being of everyone, rather than as a conversation about dividing assets, will help your relatives feel more at ease.

If you haven’t yet completed your own planning, now is a great time to start. Sharing your personal experience with estate planning and any sense of peace that it has given you may encourage your loved ones to seek out similar peace of mind.

Start with the Fun Stuff

A family reunion is a wonderful opportunity to share stories, memories, values, and lessons accumulated by all the members, and to pass those valuable assets on to the next generations. Estate planning can be an amazing tool for memorializing these important family assets, and setting the stage for larger conversations about family legacy.

Let your family know that estate planning isn’t just about planning for death – it’s also about preserving legacy and passing it along. Bring a phone or other recording device and offer to record the storytelling at family dinner, or hire a photographer to take photos of a group activity. What could be more precious than sharing this record of your loved ones at future family reunions? 

Starting with this light and undoubtedly precious group activity can ignite cooperation and enthusiasm about the larger process of preserving family legacy with proper estate planning.

If you would like more advice on how to talk to your family about estate planning, or are interested beginning your own estate planning journey, Jane Legal can help. Schedule a free 15-minute discovery call to learn more about our Family Wealth Planning process.

This article is a service of Jane Legal PC. We don’t just draft documents; we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That’s why we offer a free Family Wealth Planning Session™, during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been and make all the best choices for your chosen family. Begin the process by scheduling a 15-minute discovery call.

The content is sourced from Personal Family Lawyer® for use by Personal Family Lawyer® firms, a source believed to be providing accurate information. This material was created for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as ERISA, tax, legal, or investment advice. If you are seeking legal advice specific to your needs, such services should be obtained separately from this educational material.

No Comments

Post A Comment