Two years ago my parents embraced their need for wealth transfer and it fell on me as facilitator of their estate to discuss it with my siblings and coordinate their wishes with their financial advisor. The advisor was well prepared for our meeting and his ability to build a relationship with his client’s next of kin determined whether he will continue to manage the family’s assets in the future.
As the adult child of aging parents, I naturally have concerns about family money and my parents welfare. I worry about their ability to make decisions especially with regard to preserving finances.
There were 3 key factors that made the advisor successful in his role:
He understood our family’s dynamics and values, he was willing to educate less knowledgeable family members about money and he listened carefully, assuming a neutral role. He quickly embraced the opportunity to work with the next generation of our family and played a vital role in the estate planning process.
Here is a summary of the steps we took:
· Addressing what my parents did and didn’t want. My mother explained why they wanted me to handle their estate, health care proxies, intentions for their home, insurance policies and investments.
· The advisor acted as a mediator. Not surprisingly, some family members took offense to me, the middle child, stepping into the role of facilitator.
· Put it in writing. We stated our intent for the inheritances we would eventually receive and decided where copies of important documents would be stored.
· Each of us had the opportunity to meet with the advisor individually to review investing, financial planning and personal concerns.
· Discuss and coordinate everything. Although I imagine my parents will live for many more years, this was a very productive family conversation. Although difficult, the experience confirmed how valuable a trusted advisor is when helping families navigate this emotionally charged topic. The advisor served as an educator, coordinator, mediator and confidante, setting us on a path for success in years to come. Many studies show that family wealth often dwindles away in successive generations. I wonder how many families could have preserved the financial legacies previous generations built with the help of a caring and capable advisor?
Ron Ware, J.D. and Greg Hammond, CFP®, CPA are wealth impact strategists and personal legacy advisors who help individuals, families, and business owners enhance their financial standing while discovering a greater capacity to provide for their loved ones and support cherished charities. Contact Ron or Greg.