Shane Larson, CFP®

Growing up, my family had this silly tradition of family meetings. Silly to me but important to my parents. We would gather in the living room and discuss frivolous things such as chores or our next family vacation. In one memorable family meeting, my little brother came down with a clipboard and started listing off the missing cards from a deck of cards (it was more than half and we never found them). Needless to say, I thought these meetings were pointless.

Little did I know that this pointless task would be so important for us when my mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Instantaneously, we had to come together as a family to make sure my mother received the best care possible without destroying ourselves. This experience has taught me the importance of open communication within a family.

Now that you have worked extremely hard, dreamed about what your future will be like and put those dreams into a plan, it is time to share that with your loved ones, so all the work does not go to waste. However, it can also be very frightening and vulnerable to share this much with your family, so I have outlined some tips from my experience to help facilitate this open communication and help execute your plan and, more importantly, your dreams.

Be Prepared

If you don’t have a plan or the necessary items completed, this will make the sharing with others very difficult. Things to have in place before sharing with your family should include your will, Power of Attorney, health care directives, copies of insurance policies and contact information for professionals who helped you design your plan.

Don’t Go It Alone

This may be a daunting task and there are probably areas of your plan and wishes that you do not fully understand or that you are able to articulate. With the more technical details, do not be afraid to ask your attorney, CPA or financial planner to be a part of the meeting to help explain. You maybe surprised with what questions or concerns arise from your family and having a professional there to help should relieve some of that anxiety.

Remember Your Values

Your family is unique and different from any other family and your values are what set you apart. Remember to share and reflect on those values and share stories about how they benefit you in life. Try to avoid being bogged down on the minutiae of your plan and focus more on why your dream and your plan is important to you. This will resonate much more with your family than dictating what you want to have happen.

As I mentioned earlier, you have worked very hard to turn your dreams into a plan. It is now important you share this with others to make your dreams last forever.