Contact Us Today! (972) 712-1515

"The Blog"

A crucial Component to a Successful Estate Plan: The Family Meeting

Posted by Darryl V. Pratt | Apr 05, 2020 | 0 Comments

A Crucial Component to a Successful Estate Plan: The Family Meeting


Congratulations! You've created a comprehensive estate plan for your client. Now that all documents are signed and handed over to the client, does that mark the end of an estate planner's job? According to the book Estate Planning for the Post-Transition Period, the majority of estate plans that fail do so because of non-legal/non-technical aspects. These errors have nothing to do with your perfectly drafted estate plan. Rather, they are issues related to lack of communication and inaction on the part of your clients' family. Today, the most common reasons for failure are:

  1. Beneficiaries being ill-equipped to handle their inheritance and thus spend the money unwisely.
  2. Heirs being surprised by the estate details and finding them to be unfair go on to pursue litigation. 
  3. Agents not being made aware of their duties.
  4. Proper trust funding not completed prior to death.

The good news is that estate planners can help prevent these issues and ensure that clients' plans are properly executed as they were intended by encouraging clients to meet with their families to communicate their estate plans. 

 “40% of children believe their parents' estate plans were unfair.”

Estate planners can deliver even more value to their clients by offering to participate in these meetings. Not only are attorneys better able to explain how the plan works, but this also provides an opportunity to build relationships with your clients' family members who may need to reach out to you for help executing their parents' plan (or creating a plan of their own).

The Importance of Setting an Agenda

One way to ensure a successful family meeting is to help your clients prepare a meeting agenda. This is an important step to ensure that all necessary information is discussed—or to determine the information your client wishes to disclose at the time. That way if the meeting becomes emotional, having an agenda will help keep the discussion on track and not get derailed or hijacked by other family members. 

The agenda should cover your clients' objectives, purposes, goals, and expected outcomes. The intention of this meeting should be to prepare family members for what they can expect and what they may need to do if/when your client becomes disabled or dies. If your client prefers, no specific financial information or values of assets needs to be disclosed at this meeting.

Want pre-written, customizable content to educate your current and prospective clients on the benefits of estate planning? WealthCounsel can help. Click here to learn more. 

Other Considerations to Make

Clients should expect there to be some anxiety as the meeting begins, due to the discussion of sensitive issues. There may be additional challenges for clients with blended families, or for clients who may have a child that is not financially ready to handle an inheritance. To make sure these meetings run as smoothly as possible, here are a few other considerations for your clients: 

  • Select an appropriate venue. A crowded restaurant is not suitable for a serious discussion. The location should encourage discussion but also convey the seriousness of the meeting. You, as the attorney, or the client's financial advisor, will probably have access to a meeting room. A family room that accommodates everyone also can work.
  • Select a date that is convenient for everyone. A traditional family gathering time, like the Thanksgiving weekend, may be convenient; but advise your client to be mindful that conducting the meeting before the actual holiday may spoil a family gathering if their situation involves difficult topics.
  • Limit the meeting to adults. Make arrangements for the care of young children so your client has the parents' full attention.

Having clients discuss these issues out in the open can be difficult at first, but it often leads to greater understanding and acceptance. For other resources on client education and relationship building, visit our resource center, check out our education calendar, or subscribe to our legal magazine, the Quarterly.


You have invested a lot in making your business a success, and it is hard to think about relinquishing ownership or control of it. Nevertheless, planning is critical in creating a lasting legacy for your family. We can help you put a plan in place that helps you successfully pass your business on to the next generation and ensures that you have a financially secure retirement. Contact our office today at (972) 712-1515 to set up a meeting.

About the Author

Darryl V. Pratt

With almost twenty-five (25) of experience as a dual-licensed Attorney and Certified Public Accountant, Darryl V. Pratt has practiced law in all areas of corporate and business law, non-profit law, estate planning, probate, guardianship, asset protection planning, bankruptcy (Chapters 7, 13 and 11), real estate, and taxation.


There are no comments for this post. Be the first and Add your Comment below.

Leave a Comment

DISCLAIMER Pratt Law Group, PLLC (PLG) has prepared the material on this web site, for informational purposes only; it does not constitute legal advice. Further, the material on this site does not create, and receipt does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. The information here is not intended to substitute for obtaining legal advice from an attorney. No person should act or rely on any information in this site without seeking the advice of an attorney. Members of the law firm of PLG are licensed to practice in various courts and jurisdictions; attorneys are specifically licensed to practice in state courts that are enumerated on their individual attorney profiles. We also have affiliations in particular cases with attorneys licensed in additional states. PLG does not offer any guarantee of case results. Although we are extremely proud of our excellent track record, past success does not guarantee success in any new or future case or client matter. This web site is considered advertising by the State Bar of Texas under the applicable law and ethical rules. The determination of the need for legal services and the choice of a lawyer are extremely important decisions and should not be based solely upon advertisements or self-proclaimed expertise. Only those attorneys who state they are Board Certified in their profiles on this website are Board Certified. All other attorneys are not Board Certified. Darryl V. Pratt is the attorney responsible for this site. The principal office of PLG is 2591 Dallas Parkway, Suite 505, Frisco, Texas 75034. Please note that the transmission of an e-mail inquiry itself does not create an attorney-client relationship. PLG cannot serve as your counsel in any matter unless you and our firm expressly agree in writing that we serve as your attorney. You should also be aware that the Statute of Limitations (the deadline imposed by law within which you may bring a lawsuit) may have expired or may severely limit the time remaining for you to file any potential claims you may have. Time is of the essence. If you believe you have a possible legal case, it is important that you seek out legal advice as soon as possible.