5 family engagement rules of thumb

Estate Planning Services

5 family engagement rules of thumb

Estate Planning Services

Financial matters can have a significant influence on every aspect of life, yet families often avoid discussing financial topics—particularly estate planning decisions—for fear they will stir up family conflict. However, when it comes to financial conversations, it is possible not only to avoid conflict, but also to positively shape future family relationships.

5 basic rules of thumb may help families navigate money, wealth, and estate planning conversations and learn and grow together, by moving beyond traditional parent-child hierarchies and becoming peers in discussion.

Bill was a family man who could fix anything, and his children grew up counting on that. He wasn’t the most communicative person, but he was a devoted father. His wallet nearly burst at the seams because it held so many family pictures.

When Bill passed away suddenly, the whole family was heartbroken. When his will was read, his daughters experienced a sense of abandonment inconsistent with the feelings they had for him throughout their lives. Their dad was so generous, and always put them first. They could not understand the choices he had made for them and their children through his estate plan. This lack of communication and confusion led to family conflict and eventually to no interaction at all. Bill could have fixed this, but he wasn’t there to fix things anymore.

Bill’s family story is not unique. Bill was a kind and loving father, and his family was, by most standards, close. But by excluding his children from financial conversations and decisions on his estate plan, Bill set in motion a series of unintended consequences that were passed down along with his estate.

It is a common fear that financial topics, and particularly estate planning decisions, will stir up family conflict. And sadly, traditional parent-child hierarchies and conventional patterns of secrecy about finances can sometimes lead to that. However, when it comes to financial conversations, it is possible not only to avoid conflict, but also to positively shape future family relationships. Here, I offer up a new way of thinking about discussions and decisions surrounding family finances, and 5 rules of thumb to promote conversations and growth through every stage of life.

To read the rest of this important article by Fidelity Investments, CLICK HERE. If you have any questions please contact Harry Perler or David Olejnik.