In our planning world, a family meeting is a tool to help build a legacy for future generations. A family meeting can cover many areas, from how the family plans to look at inherited assets, to wealth preservation, business goals for the family business, or determining the gifting approach to charities. The possibilities can be endless.
Regardless what your net worth is, holding family meetings to clarify your values and plans for the transfer and management of your wealth can be a helpful tool in communicating and educating family members on a shared vison. The first few family meetings should be about clarifying the values a family would like to sustain over a number of generations. The values might include education, service to the community, traditions, maintaining the integrity of the family’s reputation, among other possibilities. A family meeting can also be a helpful tool to remind everyone where the will and estate documents are, who the financial advisor and estate attorney are, where are the User ID’s and passwords are to investment accounts, etc. An understanding on how inherited IRA distributions and appreciated assets should be handled after the deaths of family members would be important to review regularly in a family meeting. Basic “blocking and tackling stuff”, but these are important “to dos” at the passing of an estate owner.
Some families may develop a family mission statement. Most families start at a high level with this tool. It may be as simple as; inherited assets are to be used as an income cushion for heirs and charitable gifting, while the principle is not to be touched. At the granular level, the family mission statement could say that 4% of the portfolio per year is to be used by heirs for income and charitable gifts while the investment goal on the inherited assets is a total return of appreciation and income to be 6% to 8% per year. This approach will help ensure that the family’s intent and wishes endure over multiple generations. More “teeth” can be put into this concept by establishing Trust documents with an estate attorney. An overview of the family’s assets at the family meeting can educate younger generations on the management of the assets.
Drilling down further the family may develop a metric for charities that they will gift to. For example, one metric could address the amount of donations that go to overhead (charity management) vs. the intended recipients. If the amount is too high, the family decision may be to pass on that charity.
The list of a family’s wishes for its’ legacy are unlimited. My experience is that most families will evolve their wishes over multiple annual family meetings using the family mission statement as a guide. Including an estate attorney or financial planner in this process can be very helpful. Using one of these professionals introduces an unbiased, non-family member to facilitate the process.
* * * * *
As a Financial Planner, Peter brings three decades of consumer product industry experience and a high level of customer service to the financial services business. After a successful 25 year sales career at Blistex, Inc., he was employed at Morgan Stanley as a Registered Marketing Associate and Financial Advisor from 2010 to 2013. Peter believes in diversified portfolio management to meet college savings goals, retirement lifestyle objectives, charitable giving goals, and estate planning objectives.
Peter is involved in his local community in Annapolis, MD. He has served on the Vestry and chaired six Stewardship Campaigns at St. Anne’s Church. He currently supports St. Anne’s as the Planned Giving Committee Chairman. He has been active in local Boy Scout units and also serves on the Board of the Trustees for the Chase Home in Historic Annapolis on the Endowment Committee.
Peter and his wife Molly live in Annapolis, MD and are “empty nesters”. Their son, Hunter, graduated from the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, VA and their youngest son, McLean graduated from Belmont University in Nashville, TN.