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Planning a Family Meeting—After the Holidays

Senior friends socializing at home

As you are gearing up for the holidays and getting ready for your family to come together, you may be think about holding a family meeting to discuss important matters regarding your care and finances. Even though this seems like a good idea and is something that is very important, please do not have this meeting during the holidays.

December holidays are times for family to come together, celebrate, be thankful, and prepare to ring in a new year. Simply put, people don’t want to talk about care and money. Conversations about care and money during the holidays can create animosity and anxiety, and potentially make this year’s holiday one to forget.

If your family needs to discuss elder care and financial issues, it is important to create a plan and structure to ensure that the meeting is successful.

Plan: When you are bringing loved ones together to share care and financial matters, it is good to be as prepared as possible. Prepare a list of your care instructions. If there are documents you have created ahead of time (e.g., your will, living trusts) be ready to share them with your family. Also, you will want to prepare some basic financial information so your family can feel confident your wishes are played out the way you want.

Structure: If family meetings are not part of your family routine, a moderator can help you have a productive meeting. Therapists, social workers, financial planners, accountants, clergy—an outside party you trust—can help keep the meeting moving. Share your plan with that person ahead of time so he or she can be the voice of reason if emotions run high. This should also ease your burden so you can focus on talking with your family. Also, make sure the meeting is at a time and place when everyone can participate. Getting all your family together in one place may be difficult but, if you reiterate that this is important to you, your family will find a way to make it work.

By following these simple guidelines when conducting family meetings, you can make this process impactful. The more vocal you can be with your family about how you want to be cared for, the more you will ensure your wishes are fulfilled. And don’t forget to meet your family in the middle—they may be nervous and scared. Planning the meeting and structuring it to be productive will help you listen and respond well to their concerns.

Shane P. LarsonContributor Shane P. Larson, CFP® is the owner of S.P.Larson Financial Planning, LLC. He draws on difficult times he and his family experienced when a loved one’s health declined. Shane can be reached at shane@splarson.com.

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