Why it’s time to introduce your family to your advisor

By ATB Wealth 26 April 2022 2 min read

When Dana Banks lost her father to cancer, she had a lot to process. Besides the grief that comes with losing a parent, she was also responsible for making funeral arrangements and providing ongoing financial oversight and emotional support for her mother.

One of the things she didn’t have to worry about was trying to figure out her parents’ financial situation thanks to an existing relationship with their financial advisor. 

"Fortunately my mom and dad's advisor has been my advisor for years, so when things went sideways I knew who to call to help us understand what the financial picture was, both the day-to-day while dad was incapacitated and longer-term situation when he passed," says Banks, Senior Marketing Manager with ATB Wealth. "If there was no previous relationship it would have been more challenging to figure out who to call and have the conversations we needed to have." 

Talking about wealth transfer from parents to children, or from spouse to spouse, isn’t an easy topic. Ultimately, it means planning for the death of a parent. But while uncomfortable and potentially upsetting, having the conversation while you still can will provide peace of mind that there is a plan in place to pass your legacy to the next generation to ensure your family is protected and taken care of for years to come. 

A trusted financial advisor can help support the conversation, and eventually the transition, which Banks knows from her own experience. 

"Our advisor was really helpful in playing the role of facilitator and educator. My parents had not shared any of this information previously, and he was able to add value by guiding the conversation, providing examples of how other families handled things, and presenting options for us to develop a go-forward plan."

"From a beneficiary perspective it would have been so much better to have these conversations during good times rather than in challenging circumstances," she adds.  

A trusted advisor also provides consistency and holistic planning because the advisor is aware of all aspects of their client’s situation and estate. "A good advisor understands the client’s situation, family, assets, financial obligations and needs," says Tanis Jalbert, Estate and Succession Specialist with ATB Wealth. "The advisor can provide the family with support and guidance in difficult times such as incapacity or death. When we think of all these benefits, it becomes clear why introduction to a client’s family early on is so important. When the advisor has a relationship with a client’s family, it eases the burden on loved ones, and can give them more space to prepare or grieve instead of worrying about the financial situation and decision-making." 

Source: ATB Wealth.

Family-advisor introductions can also be educational. Wealth transfer extends beyond passing money down to the next generation—it also means setting family members up for long-term success by learning how to manage that wealth. 

"By introducing a trusted advisor to children and grandchildren, clients can be confident their family is in good hands and will have the advice needed throughout their life journey. This allows the client to teach by example and model the importance of having a team of experts, including financial, legal, insurance and tax, to help them achieve their financial goals," says Jalbert.

Banks says she can’t imagine how stressful her situation might have been had she not had a relationship with her parents’ advisor. "At a minimum, I think family members need to be introduced to the parents’ advisor. Having that in place provides peace of mind for everyone."

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