‘Tis the season to get those important conversations started with your family about money, wealth and estate plans.
- With everyone gathered around, the Holidays are an ideal time to get the family together to discuss money issues—just make sure you do it the right way.
- Three basics that most people need to understand about money are your balance sheet; your assets, and your cash flow.
- Money can be a tough subject to bring up with family because there are so many emotions tied to it.
You know, it’s that time again when families get together for the Holidays. It reminds me of a good friend who has a large extended family. Once a year, the whole clan vacations together. Believe it or not, each morning they spend an hour in which they talk with each other about money. The rest of the day is free for fun and frolicking—what people typically do on vacation. But, what’s happening with my friend’s family is that they’ve become better connected and more clearly understand where he and his spouse stand on money, and what’s going to happen with the money when they pass on. It’s neat to watch the change that’s taken place in the family over the past ten years.
So, what does that mean for you? Money can be a tough subject to bring up with family because there are so many emotions tied to it. We worry about trust fund babies. We worry about people living for our money, i.e. our families and so forth. Even though money can be a sensitive subject, the Holidays are a good time for families to bring up money issues because it’s one time of year when everyone can get together.
The first step is putting together an estate plan—making sure that you have something in writing that documents what happens to your money if something happens to you, your spouse or other members of the family.
Three basics about money
Here’s where we get into the three basics about money that most people need to understand:
- The balance sheet
- The assets
- The cash flow
You need to understand what’s coming in, what’s going out and how this money gets taxed. This might be the time to have a family meeting and get the next generation(s) more involved in what’s going on with your estate. You can start by providing copies of your financial statements to family members. It can be an organized statement to make things simpler. It can be just a portion of the estate, so family members can start seeing how things work. They can see the investment management. They can see the cash flow. They can see the assets. Over time, as family members get more comfortable with the process, you can share more details of your estate plan. The Holidays are a good time to get the ball rolling and reflect.
Since some of you might be hesitant to start these money conversations with your family, we wrote a book called, Changing the Conversation. It has lots of real-world conversations about money and it’s been helpful for many of our clients. And you can certainly call us or your other advisors for help in the sensitive area of families and money. Just something to think about over the Holidays. Until next time, enjoy this festive season. Gary.
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