smiling grandma with daughter and grand kids.

The Family Conference: Organizing Your Wealth Transfer Plans, Before It’s Too Late

Today, I'm going to ask you to co-ordinate and host a financial conversation with your family, specifically about your wealth transfer plans.

We both know being vulnerable enough to share your innermost thoughts with your family is challenging. You might even be saying to yourself, "There is no way that I can do it."

I get it, a conversation of this magnitude is fraught with risk. However, leaving what needs to be said, unsaid, doesn't serve anyone.

Getting in the habit of having this type of regular conversation will be incredibly beneficial to you and your heirs. You'll be able to discuss in a non-confrontational way what you are thinking, why you are planning the way you are, and how they think and feel about your plans.

Lastly, it can smooth out any long-simmering tension or conflict that's been brewing. Clearing the air will allow you to have a smooth wealth transition and an understanding family.

group of business people at conference table.

Let’s review how to host a constructive family conference.

How to Execute a Family Conference

First, you'll want to set the stage for the discussion through a formal or informal invitation. You'll want to let everyone know the location (choose a place that makes everyone as comfortable as possible) and the conference's duration.

A good time to hold these types of meetings can be around a holiday or a large family gathering (I'd recommend a day or two after the celebration).

During the meeting, you'll want to share your plans and thoughts in the following six key areas:

  1. Money and investments
  2. Insurance
  3. Family heirlooms
  4. Sentimental items
  5. Philanthropic giving
  6. Business succession

As you can imagine, each of these areas can be contentious. They can be especially challenging to deal with after you are gone. That's a significant benefit of holding the family conference before it is too late.

If you are concerned about any of the above issues creating hostility and combativeness amongst family members, you might want to consider engaging a third-party mediator to assist you in resolving the tension. Otherwise, you can move forward with or without professional support.

Once you've gathered your family members, everyone is comfortable, and the meeting parameters are defined, you are ready to begin.

Let everyone know why they are here, your goals for the meeting, and there will be time for them to express their thoughts and opinions during the conversation.

Once you've laid the groundwork, dive into the six primary areas listed above.

Inform your heirs about who you've chosen as your power of attorney(s) (POAs) and why. Let them know how you plan on dividing up your estate, and the tax consequences of your decisions. Inform them of where they can find your estate documents if they ever need them. Lastly, provide them with a list of professionals they might need to contact when the time comes.

Once you've walked through your plans and wishes, it's time to open up the floor to those in attendance.

It's now their turn to seek understanding.

Your loved ones are going to have questions and opinions. Allow them the opportunity to be open with you. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised with the results.

At the end of the meeting, if there are any action items, you'll want to address them promptly. If they are important enough, you might even want to schedule a follow-up discussion.

The family conference is about being informative, inclusive and understanding. I think it's a great way to bring the family closer together, discuss important legacy issues, and allow everyone the opportunity to be heard.

If you know your wealth transfer plans, are comfortable with what you’ve decided and are prepared to have this conversation with your family, then you are ready to go. Otherwise, you might have some questions on how to execute this type of comprehensive discussion. Don’t worry, we’ve got your covered.

You next step if you aren't crystal clear on your wealth transfer plans

The next step you'll take to refine your wealth transfer plan is to access our wealth advisory planning questionnaire.

To access your copy of our wealth planning questionnaire, click here and fill out the required inputs.

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In the how may we help you? box, you can provide us a brief summary of your situation, or simply write in request for wealth advisory questionnaire. Upon receipt of your request, we’ll e-mail your complimentary download within one business day.

The questionnaire can be downloaded and filled in on your own time, or if you’d prefer, you can request to fill in the questionnaire in consultation with one of our wealth planning professionals free of charge.

I look forward to hearing from you.


Kurt Lucier, CFA

Information in this article is from sources believed to be reliable. However, we cannot represent that it is accurate or complete. It is provided as a general source of information and should not be considered personal investment advice or solicitation to buy or sell securities. The views are those of the author, Kurt Lucier, and not necessarily those of Raymond James Ltd. Investors considering any investment should consult with their investment advisor to ensure that it is suitable for the investor’s circumstances and risk tolerance before making any investment decision. Raymond James advisors are not tax advisors and we recommend that clients seek independent advice from a professional advisor on tax-related matters. Securities offered through Raymond James Ltd., member-Canadian Investor Protection Fund. Insurance offered through Raymond James Financial Planning Ltd., not a member-Canadian Investor Protection Fund. Raymond James Ltd. is a Member Canadian Investor Protection Fund.