April 28th, 2020
INTRODUCTION: As you know, the US is implementing a three-phased approach to reopen the economy after stay-at-home orders are lifted. Just as the US is saying it’s time to open our economy, it’s time for us to open up family conversation again. In Phase 2 conversations, we grapple together with honesty about our response to this current reality, which will keep us agile, responsive, and connected in these unprecedented times.
ACTIVITY: Plan an In Case of Emergency “ICE” Conversation with your loved ones.
This pandemic has gotten many people thinking about getting their “house in order.” No, I’m not talking about organizing your kitchen cupboards, although maybe you’ve done this too! An ICE Conversation involves sharing with family members what you want them to know should you become incapacitated or no longer on this side of heaven. Regardless of the current environment, it’s wise to ensure that you’ve effectively communicated emergency plans with your family members. Here’s how to get started:
From the list below, decide what you want your family members to know. Some families begin with a couple key items from the list, such as advisor team and safe deposit box information, while other families choose to share much more. Whatever you decide, think of this step as a move toward transparency and preparing your loved ones.
- The name, respective role, and contact information for any Advisors (e.g. financial, estate, CPA, etc.) your family members may need to contact. Include direction for which Advisor/s should be contacted first.
- A list of various business entities, financial accounts, and or firms with whom you have assets retained so you can avoid losing assets to unclaimed property
- The location of any safes in your home or safe deposit boxes, as well as how to access them, and how the contents should be handled
- The location of any important paperwork such as deeds, certificates of ownership, birth and/or marriage records
- Life Insurance policies
- Charitable vehicles (e.g. private foundation, DAF, etc.) and legacy wishes
- Direction for how to handle valuables in the home, especially items such as artwork or jewelry, antiques or vehicles. It is often difficult for family members to determine the valuation of these tangible assets, so any direction you can provide will be helpful. If you have an advisor, such as an Art Dealer, who manages these tangible assets, be sure to include this person’s name and contact information.
- The location of your passwords for online accounts that others may need to access. This should include any cryptocurrency accounts. If you haven’t read the news stories about the millions of dollars lost from those who have made this error, you can begin here!
- End of life wishes
- Household contractors list
Make a plan to share this information to your family members but encourage great care for the security of this information. For example, due to concerns about cybersecurity, we recommend that you do not convey sensitive content regarding your ICE plans via email.
Once you have compiled the information you want to share with your loved ones, schedule a time with your family members to have an ICE Conversation. Allay their fears by letting them know that you’re just being proactive and the conversation is not being prompted by illness or other bad news. “I/We plan to live many, many more years … this is just a step in our overall planning for our family.”
Given that the nature of this conversation can feel heavy to family members, plan to end your ICE conversation with a positive tone. For example: have each person share one family moment that will go down as one of your funniest or most treasured memories of all time.
LOOKING AHEAD: Wondering what a Phase 3 approach to your family communication and decision-making looks like? Just like our country’s Phase 3 gets our economy back in action, in this phase your family puts the wisdom and learning from your Phase 2 conversations into action, implementing innovation and pivots that are aligned with your values and goals. Easy, right? Well, we know it’s not always simple to apply these ideas with your own family. So, feel free to reach out – schedule a confidential, complimentary consultation with a member of our team. We’d love to hear about how your family is facing this time together.
LOOKING BACK: Check out a previous post from this series, A Share and Tag Activity, for more easy ways to prompt Phase 2 conversation with your family members.
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