Why would a family need a meeting? Can’t we just talk like we always do? And why in the world would we invite someone else into the business of our family, especially if we’re going to talk about uncomfortable things, like what we’re going to do when someone in our family passes away?
By Robert Mauterstock of Wealth Management, for Forbes
Actually, a family meeting can be a life-changing experience for the entire family if it is conducted properly. Most families have never gathered together as a group to discuss critical family issues.
This meeting will probably be the first time they sit down together with a specific agenda and an outside facilitator who will direct their conversation. It is an excellent way to help mom and dad share with the family their plans for retirement, their future health care needs and their estate plan.
Here are the seven steps to make the family meeting successful:
- Mom and dad as the hosts should identify who is the “Alpha Child” or “Family Champion” in their family. This is the child who keeps the family connected, who can communicate with parents and siblings easily and who is admired and trusted by all. This”Alpha Child” will enroll everyone in the family to understand the importance of the meeting and secure their promise to be there.
- The family should identify a facilitator to plan and run the family meeting. The facilitator should not be a member of the immediate family. The facilitator’s first job is to meet with the “Alpha Child” and get contact information for each family member. He then contacts each of them for a one-on-one conversation. These conversations can be done in person, on the phone or using conferencing software like Zoom, FaceTime or Skype. He learns from them what issues they want to discuss and what topics they want to avoid. These conversations are confidential and are not shared with the rest of the family.