Why a Family Meeting Makes Sense for Any Family

Why a Family Meeting Makes Sense for Any Family

Wealth presents wonderful opportunities but can become a mixed blessing if family communication is poor

What is a family meeting?

This meeting gathers key family members together with the expressed purpose of communicating on a variety of important topics. The topics can range from important assets — think that beach house enjoyed by all — to charitable giving goals, caring for aging parents, or important family values. These meetings provide a forum for open communication, facilitating informed, unified decisions, and preparing the next generation.

Who should be involved?

Family meetings can include your immediate or extended family. Thinking carefully about what you want to accomplish can help you determine the scope of those who should be included. In some cases, a trusted advisor or moderator helps facilitate good communication and productive outcomes.

When should they be held?

Planning ahead is the key to accommodating busy schedules. Families may naturally gather together over the holidays but think about the challenging distractions as well. Consider setting a specific date that is independent of other events.

Enhance the chances of success

While there is no perfect recipe for a successful family meeting, here are a few guidelines that can increase the potential for a productive and enjoyable time together.

  • Prepare an agenda including activities/ topics that are meaningful and fun
  • Communicate the topics to be discussed with everyone involved
  • Make participants aware of anything they may need to prepare in advance
  • Establish behavioral ground rules for the meeting such as being polite and not interrupting others
  • Appoint a notetaker
  • Periodically summarize individuals’ perspectives, collaborative decisions, and items tabled for another time.
  • Celebrate your cooperative efforts!

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