Hi, my name is Forest Li and I am a CPA. My passion is to help people not only survive but thrive in their finances. More importantly, my goal is to help you make your personal finance more meaningful and have purpose for every dollar you have.
In this article, I would like to introduce you to the idea of family conference.
A family conference is a one-day or weekend retreat for you to cast vision about how you want to distribute your estate to your family.
Why should you have a family conference?
By having a family conference, you will be able to facilitate more conversations about money and estate planning and build an atmosphere of trust and clear communication with your family members. Because money always reveals heart these conversations can be difficult. When done with intentionality and support family conferences can be a way to draw closer together. It is good to start the conversation early before illness or other factors make it more difficult.
You will be able to crystallize your thinking about how to distribute your estate. By articulating and talking about your plan, you will become clearer about what you want to do.
You will be able to lead by example on showing how to manage money well and passing down the wisdom before you pass down money to your heirs. Too much money without wisdom may bring more trouble than help.
Who should you invite to a family conference?
Your children – they are the main audience who will directly be impacted by what you share at the family conference.
Your children’s spouse – since they are married to your children, they influence their lifestyles, values and financial decisions as a spouse.
Your grandchildren – it is never too early to train your grandchildren about money. Eventually they will inherit their parents’ estate and some of that estate could be from you.
Your financial planner – he can be invited as either a facilitator or guest speaker for your family conference from time to time. Because he knows your financial history well, it is good to have their perspective there because they are trained to see things from a holistic point of view. Don’t know what a financial planner does? Please feel free to reach out to me and I will be happy to explain it to you.
How often should you have it?
After the initial gathering, it is good to touch base whenever there may be changes in the family that would affect the estate. The frequency of these meetings depends on how complicated your estate is. If it involves a lot of people, it takes more time to build trust and vulnerability of a group. The more time you spend as a group, the easier the money conversation will go.
What do you do in a family conference?
Have a meal or fun time together as a family – This is a great way to promote the atmosphere of unity and celebration and set the tone for what’s to come.
Allot specific time to share your desires and expectations – It is always good to lay out the land before surveying. What I mean by this is that people want to know their purpose for something that they are invited. By sharing your desires and expectations, your family will get a clear picture of what they get into. This also invites your family into the decision-making process of estate planning.
Discuss your current state of finance, pass down your financial wisdom and discuss your wealth transfer plan – This is the nitty-gritty part of the conference. It is crucial to plan out what you want to share in advance. The more details you have, the more informed your family member could be. If there are too much information, you may want to consider breaking down the materials to multiple family conferences.
In conclusion, a family conference is a tool that will allow you to share your desires and expectations about your estate distribution. Remember to focus on the process rather than the destination!
If you have any more questions regarding family conferences or personal finance, I offer a 30-minute FREE consultation. Please feel free to reach out to me.
My contact information is below:
Forest Li, CPA, CA, CKA®
Forest Li Finance