Calling a Family Meeting to Discuss Estate Planning
Updated: Mar 17
Sometimes getting a family to agree on estate planning for aging parents is a hard task to achieve but, having a family meeting is a good start. Joining together with your family and working toward creating an estate plan can be a vital step in preparing for the future.
Preparing for the Elder Years
It is often a tough time when a parent or loved one is entering the part of their life when they need help in preparing financially, legally and emotionally for aging.
Families need to plan for today and tomorrow by anticipating and then providing for special needs and requirements for their aging parents. These include adult day care, nursing homes, home care, hospice care, long-term care, and assisted living. Estate planning should also involve making decisions regarding the financial and legal needs for their aging parents as well.
Even though our days are busy with ever-growing workloads, there are still these critical times when we must act to make a positive difference in someone’s life even if the discussions and actions are hard to consider and implement.
Don’t Wait for a Crisis
The best time to call for a family meeting that aims at discussing estate planning is when your loved one is healthy and able to express their wishes. If possible, do not wait until there is a crisis that requires immediate intervention. It is wise to have the meeting and create a plan early, so everyone is prepared when an emergency happens as it inevitably will.
The next best time to call for that meeting is when you notice a behavioral change in a loved one like increased forgetfulness or difficulty in managing money. Missed medications can also be a sign that a crisis could be looming. These behavioral changes might indicate a decline in cognitive ability which means that your loved one may need help in making health care and financial decisions.
Plan an Agenda
Planning an agenda is a good first step in letting all know what needs to be discussed. This is one of the tough tasks that is typically assigned to the person in charge. You have to schedule the meeting and outline the agenda and topics that are going to be discussed. The agenda should be centered and focused on the welfare of the senior and sent to all members of the family before the meeting.
Family members should be encouraged to attend and given enough time to come up with ideas and suggestions they would like to discuss.
Typical agenda items might include:
Medical: The latest medical overview, any recommended procedures or changes, and medical team contact information. (This may be prepared by using the Gentreo Emergency Contact Card).
Financial: Current and predicted cost for care and related services, a review of assets/debt, monthly budget, costs, and income
Legal: Status and need for estate planning documents like a Power of Attorney, Health Care Proxy, Will or Trust
Living Arrangements: What is desired and what is physically possible, who can help, and what help can be afforded
(Visit Gentreo.com for forms to help you fill out this information)
When calling a meeting, identify family roles that can be performed by members of the family depending upon one’s relationship to the person needing care. For instance, your family may decide that the person who will be the primary caregiver should not also handle finances.
One family member could be given a role of gathering information, and another might be appointed to collect and keep the medical record. Another might take on several roles including taking control of the conversation.
Also, functions can be reassigned if any family member is not feeling comfortable with the tasks given. A neutral person can also be chosen to take up the role as facilitator if your family is prone to arguments - perhaps a member of the clergy, a close friend or a social worker.
Location of the Meeting
You should try to choose a place that makes as many family members as possible feel comfortable and welcome. The meeting can be held in a family member’s home as long as all other members are on board. However, if one family member has issues with another and each refuses to visit the other, those homes should be ruled out. Your parent’s home might be the most suitable place because many might see it as a neutral area. Other excellent locations can be library meeting rooms, restaurants or an office.
Dealing with Distance
A good meeting is one that has all family members present. However, your family may be spread out in different geographical areas, making it difficult for everyone to convene at the same place.
Thanks to technology, the entire family – regardless of location – can be brought together by a conference and or video call. Today’s computers, laptops, and mobile devices make it easy.
Involve the Whole Family
It’s importatnt that the entire family be involved to discuss issues, possible options, and solutions on how to support one another both today and in the future. Everyone should be brought into the discussion to express their feelings and ideas.
Although the meeting may not give solutions to every issue, it could lead your family in the right direction and help set a path forward. Additional meetings may be needed to further discuss plans.
For more information, contact us at Gentreo.com. We can help you create a simple and affordable health and estate plan, and a safe place to store it.
Gentreo is not a law firm or a substitute for a law firm, or attorney, or an attorney’s advice or recommendations.