Is It Time for That Talk?

It may be a toss-up as to who dreads a family talk about your finances and the future more. You or your heirs. Regardless, if you haven’t had that talk or it’s been a while, there’s no time like the present to discuss expectations — yours and theirs — concerning your estate. They could be quite different.

At your meeting, you’ll want to share the contents and locations of your will, insurance policies, any trusts you’ve set up, your retirement plan accounts and beneficiary distributions, and a business succession plan, if appropriate, along with other estate documents.

That may be the easy part. You also need to let them in on your assets in bank, investment, and other financial accounts — something people often have difficulty doing.

If you haven’t already named a financial power of attorney and executed a healthcare proxy, a family meeting is a good time to do so or to share your choices if you have.


It’s not just about the money, which is why many advisors encourage in-person meetings to avoid later hard feelings. That way, emotional needs can be addressed, as well as estate and financial information. Make sure everyone understands how you plan to distribute business and personal assets and why. Explain what you value.

If you’d like to see inheritances used for college expenses or a down payment on a home, you may want to set up a trust to distribute funds for those purposes and explain why.

If you want personal property to go to particular people, explain your reasons and list those bequests in your will. You may help avoid family squabbles later.

Be clear about your healthcare proxy and what life-extending measures you do and don’t want, and why you’ve chosen your proxy. It’s a difficult task not everyone can handle but needs to accept.

Finally, assure heirs that your professional advisors will be there to help.

April 2022 Client Profile

Danielle wants to begin teaching personal finance to her 12-year-old daughter. What are some topics and resources she can use?

Sadly, personal finance is not taught in all schools, leaving parents the job to educate their children. Starting the money conversation at home will help Danielle’s daughter become financially literate. Developing financial skills will help her daughter when the time comes to manage her own finances.

Danielle can begin by talking about financial decisions and explain her own spending habits and how she manages the family budget.

They can implement a hands-on joint project to help her daughter get first-hand experience. For example, Danielle can let her daughter help with grocery budgeting.

And Danielle can help her daughter save her allowance, earnings, or money gifts in a savings account that she can then use for a special purchase.

Client Profile is based on a hypothetical situation. The solutions discussed may or may not be appropriate for you.