Bridging the Communication Gap Through Family Meetings

Jill-Ciccarelli-Rappsby Jill Ciccarelli Rapps, CFP®
Financial Advisor

Leaving a legacy is more expansive than just leaving your money to your heirs; it also encompasses your intangible assets. Money can’t buy experience, wisdom, attitudes and work ethics, which may indeed be your greatest gifts, but how do you preserve these values for generations to come?

While money can be a tie that binds the family, in many cases it creates stress and separation. A worldwide fact is that about 70 percent of carefully crafted and executed estate plans “fail” within two generations, including family harmony.1  So what may be  missing…communication?

Talking openly about money in our society has typically been taboo. Families are allowed to talk or act around it, like buying a new car, new home or take a vacation, but rarely do parents engage in discussing the value of money, and how it impacts the family entity. Where do you want your family to be in 50 years? What are your greatest hopes for your children/grandchildren? What are your greatest concerns? How much is enough? How much is too much? How do we decide on the best use of our wealth? How do we want to spend, save and share our money? What is your greatest gift you can share with your family? I believe we all have special gifts and it is our responsibility to share them, to pass on our wisdom and experiences, so that the next generation can thrive even more than the generation before them.

In today’s fast paced and constantly evolving world, it is difficult to overcome some of the hurdles of family communication. One of the biggest challenges is the communication gap. You may ask your grandchild, “How was school today?” a typical answer may be “Good,” and that is the end of the conversation. My father is a genius when it comes to communicating to his grandchildren, he found a common ground and that was through laughter. He has “Poppy jokes” that he tells, and the grandchildren compete to search for the best “Poppy jokes” to tell him. This opened the dialogue for more communication with the grandchildren.

So where do you start? Find something meaningful to your family. As an example, if giving to charity is meaningful to you, consider starting a charitable family gift fund. Gather the family including the little ones and get them involved. Let the grandchildren know they have a certain amount of money to give away and ask them to come back with some suggestions of a charity that may need their help. Not only are you teaching them the value of giving back, but they will experience what it is like to help someone less fortunate than them, and that can be very powerful.

By hiring a third part facilitator to guide the process, this can help your family come together. The facilitator’s role is to encourage open dialogue to help lead to win-win solutions for the whole family.

Your key financial advisor can work closely with the family to prepare them for the meeting to encourage clarity and direction. The objective of the family meeting concept is to provide a catalyst to increase success for your family enterprise. Don’t let your values and your assets dwindle due to the lack of prior planning or proper communication.

Jill Ciccarelli Rapps
Jill Ciccarelli Rapps, is a certified financial planner and
a trained life coach and is a Partner of Ciccarelli Advisory
Services Inc., a Family Focused Wealth Management Firm
in Florida and New York.
Ciccarelli Advisory Services, Inc. is located at 9601
Tamiami Trail North, Naples, FL (239.262.6577)
1Source: Roy Williams and Vic Preisser, Philanthropy,
Heirs & Values (Robert Reed Publishers, 2010)
Investment advisory services offered through Ciccarelli
Advisory Services, Inc., a registered investment adviser
independent of FSC Securities Corporation. Securities
and additional investment advisory services offered through
FSC Securities Corporation, member FINRA/SIPC and
a registered investment advisor. The views expressed in
this article may not reflect the views of FSC Securities
Corporation. This information is not intended to be a
substitute for specific individualized tax, legal or investment
planning advice.

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