When to have "the talk"...no, not THAT one!

August 22, 2019

There are several life milestones that can qualify as "the talk", but this one may just be the most important of all. 

Today I'm talking about a family meeting.  This is when a/an aging family member(s) sit down with their loved ones and discuss their wants and needs as they age.

I know, I know, this can be really uncomfortable, especially for folks who have never discussed their mortality and/or finances with their next of kin.  This is often an extremely personal and emotional conversation, and many times folks simply fear it and totally avoid it.  However, I would argue that Perhaps the most important legacy you can leave to your heirs is simply a well communicated aging plan and yes, that is in my email signature.  And also yes, this means I feel that an aging plan is potentially even more important than any assets or legacy you are able to leave to your family or friends. 

Too many times I've seen families struggle with what to do when faced with the decision on what's best for Mom or Dad (or any loved one).  Many times that decision will cause tension between the family members that are forced to make tough calls - and do they even know whom is supposed to make those decisions?  In extreme cases that tension can lead to familial links being strained or outright severed altogether.  This is exactly what I want to help my clients avoid and why knowing what Mom or Dad "would have wanted" ahead of time can be so important to communicate. 

A family meeting generally consists of running through the "what if" scenarios and clearly stating what the aging member(s) would like to happen.  Even if the requests made aren't necessary realistic at least it will foster discussion and allow expectations to be adjusted accordingly.

Here's two quick scenarios that would be discussed in a family meeting:
1 - Mom falls and can't get around the house, but is expected to make a full recovery.  What happens next?  Is it a rehab stay?  Is it in home care?  If so, who provides the care?  If not hiring a professional, who is able to provide the care both physically and financially and has the time to do so?
2 - Dad is having trouble remembering things and you really can't leave him alone anymore.  What happens next?  Etc. 

Rather than go on and on, and I think you can tell I'm very passionate about this subject, I'll just leave it with this:

If you have any questions about how to set up a family meeting, or if you'd like to have me facilitate a meeting, feel free to reach out to me!  I'm happy to help in any way I can!

Until next time,

Ken