Family Meetings: Planning for Wealth Transfer and Philanthropy - Rodgers & Associates

Family Meetings: Planning for Wealth Transfer and Philanthropy

For many wealthy families, finances aren’t trans­parent to all family members. Often, only a small group of people are involved with the money and get to see the complete financial picture. Yet family dynamics are known to improve when trans­parency and openness drive the conver­sation between generations.

This is exactly what we explore in the fifth phase of the AGILE retirement journey: how to embrace family and legacy. By involving younger family members in decisions and planning, your family has an oppor­tunity to share your history, stories, ideals, and values. This not only sets the stage for connection and growth, but for younger relatives to step into decision-making roles.

We encourage our clients to discuss family wealth planning through struc­tured family meetings which we can help facil­itate. These meetings help create a process for initi­ating younger members, giving older family members the chance to seek input and learn what dreams and goals younger family members have.

This approach is often better than, say, an informal family discussion. It’s a way to bring structure to conver­sa­tions that involve subjective viewpoints. It also creates space for younger gener­a­tions to question, challenge, and make decisions—and ultimately step into leadership roles.

So, what’s on the agenda for a family meeting?

Clarify your values

Your family members may not have identical values, so it can take work to discover the values you share. To find these common­al­ities, take stock of each person’s interests and beliefs. From there, creating a shared vision can serve as a family mission statement. It’s a given that each person will have different views; the challenge is to figure out how to align these views in the best way.

Engage in philanthropy

Working together to direct your family’s giving not only helps build your legacy but offers younger relatives new ways to get involved. Philan­thropy facil­i­tates bonding as family members of different gener­a­tions work together to identify core values, locate shared passions, and give in a way that creates impact. Philan­thropic activ­ities also teach younger individuals the skills they might need to take on more prominent roles in family enterprises.

When younger family members under­stand their family’s philan­thropic prior­ities, they can be involved in choosing charities to give to. They can join nonprofit site visits, or attend events sponsored by a beloved organi­zation, to learn more. Never under­es­timate how a gift to charity can leave an impression on the next gener­ation when they’re included in the decision.

Further, when families align their philan­thropic goals with wealth management and legacy planning, they help ensure long-lasting gener­a­tional wealth and a strong family legacy. For a legacy to flourish, the younger gener­a­tions should be involved, working with their parents to contribute to their community.

Assign roles

In a family meeting, the founding gener­ation can take the time to discover younger members’ passions—and find roles in the family’s endeavors that match their interests and leadership abilities. You want to find out who has the enthu­siasm, education, and drive for various respon­si­bil­ities. This kind of thinking only helps a family’s legacy survive and thrive. And a family’s chari­table mission often improves when new voices contribute diverse perspectives.

Share estate plans

Have you talked to your family about your will, or are you leaving them with unresolved questions? Will your children fight in court because you left your estate to just one person or to a charity, they know nothing about? Your silence may hinder the possi­bility of building a legacy that will outlast your lifetime.

It’s important to remember that people don’t become masters of money the day a family member dies. So, if you’re concerned about how your estate will affect your children, have those discus­sions now. Ongoing conver­sation helps reinforce your values and plans while you’re still living and can share your wisdom.


We leave behind our wisdom and actions, which our family and friends review for guidance. We will be remem­bered when our wisdom is woven into the lives of those we’ve touched. The giving and taking, teaching and learning, can then continue through our children and grandchildren.


  • Our legacy is remem­bered when our wisdom is woven through the lives of the people we touched.
  • Family meetings create a process for bringing younger members into family decisions, bringing structure to a process that often involves subjective viewpoints.
  • Those concerned with how their inher­i­tance will affect their children should discuss estate plans while they’re still living.