family meetingAh, the dreaded Family Meeting. Those times when Mom and Dad have “something to say” and you know it’s going to end with more chores, more work, and probably someone in tears.

Just like you, family meetings have grown up, and a regularly scheduled family meeting is a great time to take a pulse on what is important in everyone’s life and bring hard-to-discuss topics to the table.

Family meetings are a time when everyone comes together and cooperatively uses the time to talk productively about issues that are relevant to the group as a whole. It’s not the time to single out someone for bad or inappropriate behavior, unless of course that behavior is impacting the entire family.

Having a regular meeting with family members lets you talk about things that may seem out of reach at times like finances, health care, planning for education, long-term care, or retirement.

What to Talk About and Why

Family meetings can help reduce stress and tension. It may be surprising to discover that many of the things you worry about are causing stress for other family members, too. Discussing them in an open and relaxed environment can create a sense of solidarity within the group, and lead to better long-term communication.

Some topics that can be covered in a formal family meeting include:

Emergency Preparedness

A particularly relevant topic given the number of natural disasters that have impacted our nation lately.

Health Care Proxy Designation

Discuss who will be the person responsible for communicating your wishes with medical providers if you become incapacitated.

Allocation of Family Belongings

Decide who wants what. It will save you a lot of time and energy, as well as money from not having to store belongings.

Financial Obligations

This can include a frank discussion about credit card debt, mortgages, education expenses, and income planning for retirement.

Business Succession

If you own and run a family business, you need to talk about who takes over and under what circumstances.

Leadership Roles Within the Family

Utilize the collective talents of the family to tap into organizational, legal, social, political and financial responsibilities.

How to Organize a Family Meeting

Effective family meetings begin with an organized approach. Set a regular time to meet and have an agenda. Allow everyone to contribute to the agenda so that every voice is equal. Follow through with an action plan. Take your family meeting time seriously, but try to have fun and make it a time that everyone looks forward to.

If you have questions about how to set up a regular family meeting that will be productive in dealing with financial, legal, and long-term planning issues, call our office and discuss your goals with one of our professionals.  At Mooney Lyons, it’s our mission is to provide you with the resources to make good planning and execution decisions.