The COVID-19 pandemic has changed our lives in innumerable ways—from how we teach our children, to how we interact in public, to how we manage our finances. Faced with a year unlike any other, many clients are taking a closer look at their long-term financial goals, especially when it comes to end-of-life planning. This presents a real opportunity to suggest a generational meeting to your clients; while we navigate this unexpected year, such a forum can bring clients peace of mind and help them put a plan in place for the future.
Four Reasons to Recommend Generational Meetings to Your Clients:
- Simplify the Process of Estate Planning
Your client and their family can work with you to clarify all the end-of-life details—from the will, to assets, even final burial wishes. With the important documents up on a screen for everyone’s review, the meeting can help determine any necessary trusts that should be put into place and who will fund those trusts, and even decide whether a portion of their inheritance will go to charity. Overall, making these decisions during a generational meeting streamlines the process and makes it such that maintenance is the only requirement of the executor and other family members from then on.
- Prevent Misunderstandings and Miscommunication
The generational meeting could last up to two hours, but by the end of it, everyone will have a clear picture of the plan for the inheritance—be that family properties, businesses or anything else. The meeting helps get everyone on the same page so that there are no surprises when the will is read.
- Present an Opportunity to Employ Money-Saving Strategies
During a generational meeting, take the opportunity to walk your client through ways they may be able to save on taxes as part of their end-of-life plan. Under your guidance, your client and their family will be able to choose money-saving strategies that could provide them with long-term benefits.
- Offer Peace of Mind and a Sense of Relief
A generational meeting is designed first and foremost to grant the entire family peace of mind and a sense of relief. It will not only help them know what will happen once their loved one passes, but will give them room to grieve without stress because they will already have a tangible understanding of the financial plans in place.
How to Encourage Your Clients to Hold Generational Meetings—and How to Make Those Meetings Successful
In addition to mentioning the four benefits listed above, here are a few simple ways to help your clients understand the advantages of a generational meeting—and to ensure you’re a successful advocate during the meeting itself.
- Describe the process and its importance—Reassure your clients that this gathering and the entire end-of-life planning process is a natural part of financial planning. It would have been recommended to them at some point no matter what; doing it now will simply remove the burden from their shoulders.
- Ask questions and determine roles—Begin by taking an inventory of your client’s situation. Ask questions to determine who holds what knowledge about your client’s assets. It is your responsibility to guide your client’s family toward a clear understanding of the full picture, and that includes determining roles such as the executor, the trustee, the personal representative and any other key players in the estate plan.
- Use concrete examples when possible—End-of-life planning can be a difficult subject for your clients and their families to discuss. Couching financial conversations in relatable anecdotes can help to make these conversations more accessible. For example, I’ve often shared the story of a family who owned a cabin for many years—the adult children used it infrequently, but their parents wanted it kept in the family. Our get-together for multiple generations to discuss financial matters gave the family the chance to decide all together whether or not to keep this property, leading them to an agreement that everyone felt comfortable with. Sharing a story like this may help your clients see the tangible benefits of the family meeting.
Generational meetings have always been a critical component of healthy financial plans, and the time is right to approach this topic with your clients. The tendency to avoid these conversations is lessening as more and more people realize their value, and after a year that’s presented unexpected challenges, end-of-life planning is top of mind for many. Don’t hesitate to tap into this climate to encourage your clients to set up generational meetings with their families.