The pre-estate family conference is a meeting of all family members who may be affected by your estate planning decisions. The conference is hosted by a professional, independent mediator – someone not involved in the development of the estate plan. The mediator’s role is to facilitate discussion, help resolve problems and conflict, and act as an impartial resource.
At the conference, family members review and discuss all details of the estate plan. Often, smaller group discussions take place to encourage the revelation and resolution of hidden issues. The length of the conference will depend on individual family circumstances, and can vary from a half day session to one week or more.
The pre-estate family conference is intended to achieve consensus among family members, not majority rule. If one family member objects to a decision, the mediator and other family members need to address their concerns. While this may appear onerous, it only takes one dissatisfied beneficiary to start estate litigation – which is exactly what you’re trying to prevent.