by Jodi O. Padgett, CFP MS, Taylor & Padgett Financial Group, LLC
A family meeting is an excellent way to get the family together to discuss important issues, especially those that involve elderly parents. It is beneficial to help mom and dad decide where they want to live and how to manage their future health-care needs, financial needs and estate plan. This is a challenging time in the life of a family, but it can be handled with care, compassion and integrity.
Families today look different than they did just a generation or two ago. Whether they are blended, multigenerational, or single-parent households, their needs require the same consideration. My own personal philosophy, in terms of putting the relationship with the client first, is also the premise on which my firm, Taylor & Padgett Wealth & Legacy Strategies, stands. We are trained, and are continuously learning how to assist our clients in arrangements that need to be made for the disposal of their estate, how to maximize the value of the estate through reduced tax strategies and how to help them make complex decisions that need to be made before it’s too late.
Over the last decade or so, our firm has been actively engaging and encouraging our clients to have family meetings. We believe it is crucial to have deeper, more thoughtful communication about things that truly matter. And it’s not just about the money. We offer to facilitate these meetings, sometimes in the form of retreats and family reunions. This invaluable time provides a unique opportunity to express and explore possibilities in a safe environment, structured with an agenda, discussion activities and pre-meeting questions and reading materials. This is a time for parents to share their deeply held values, their emotional legacy, and hopefully inspire their children and grandchildren to embrace their heritage. It is also a time for the children to speak out about their concerns, and ask questions. These meetings bring dynamic insight, perspective and wisdom to the fore as everyone tries to explore the spiritual, social and financial aspects of caring for elderly parents.
At family meetings, we guide family members through this process, providing strategies for continued income and the transfer of wealth to heirs and charitable-giving vehicles to ultimately save tax dollars while benefiting charities. As an experienced financial advisor, I am finding most clients’ financial plans cover everything from supporting newborn children to retiring in style, but some tend to resist the discussion of end-of-life details and how to celebrate the family’s mission. Recently, my partner, Charlie Taylor, and I had the honor of facilitating a family meeting at a beautiful setting just outside Boulder, Colorado. The family tree was probably not unlike so many in this day and age – early dementia, much younger second spouse, combined families, many grandchildren and family members spread from coast-to-coast!
While a traditional estate-planning discussion was essential, along with all the various highly technical tools of passing on a legacy and avoiding taxes, it was important for the family to remember who they really are. We offered the tools to assist them in discussion and in writing a legacy letter to share their values, blessings, life’s lessons, love, forgiveness, hopes and dreams. Other important issues include health care, funeral preferences, financial and heirloom bequests, and practical matters such as household maintenance.
It’s all very real and very important. Legacy planning is often referred to as the “soft side” of estate planning. We, at Taylor & Padgett Wealth & Legacy, believe in stewarding family wealth, while helping the next generation understand the emotional side, the family values and the current technical side influencing this time of life. We encourage our clients to have family meetings and consider it an honor, as professional advisors, to be part of the process.