The Estate Mediation Group

The Family Conference


The Family Conference offers a way for people related by blood, marriage or other common ties to come together for a constructive conversation about topics that matter to them. These can be difficult conversations and sometimes they do not take place at all because people do not know how to organize or conduct them. In the absence of such discussions, individuals often learn important family or personal information at the worst possible time, such as after the death or disability of a loved one.

A Family Conference gives people the opportunity to begin or continue discussing issues that may arise only once or twice in a lifetime.

Individuals can be motivated to initiate a Family Conference to address any number of potentially sensitive topics. These might include:

  • How family members will share the enjoyment and the costs of a family cottage.
  • How an aging parent's financial affairs will be managed.
  • What will happen to the parent's family business after the parent retires, becomes incapable or dies.
  • How a sibling with mental challenges will be looked after when the parent can no longer do so.
  • Living arrangements for a parent who can no longer live independently.
  • A parent's estate plan intended to pass on property of either monetary or sentimental value.

A Family Conference can be used to:

  • Convey information.
  • Elicit information or feedback from others.
  • Involve other family or group members in decision-making.
  • Develop an estate plan, which is understood and accepted by the family or relevant group.
  • Invite reluctant family or group members to begin discussions in a non-threatening environment.

A Family Conference can come into being by agreement of individual family members or we can play a role in bringing people together at the invitation of one or more of them. For example, a Family Conference could be convened at the parents' request, or at the suggestion of their estate planning adviser. How a Family Conference is initiated and organized will vary from one situation to another and from family to family.

The Estate Mediation Group plays a non-partisan role in a Family Conference. In addition to issuing invitations to the meeting, we can provide neutral facilitation services to help organize and conduct the conversation.

The content of a Family Conference will depend on its intended purpose and who the participants are. We can assist with agenda preparation and the structuring of the meeting. On the day of the event, we guide individuals through the chosen topics in a single group (plenary session) or in a series of sub-groups.

As facilitators of a Family Conference, we do not provide legal, tax or other professional advice or become involved in the content of any particular discussion.

Initiating a Family Conference

A Family Conference involves planning, foresight and convening. If you think you might like to initiate the process, we invite you to take a moment and complete The Family Conference: Thinking It Through. Then, should you wish to go forward, please contact one of us to arrange a one-hour intake session:


Please contact the mediators directly for their current rates.


Unless alternative arrangements are made with us in advance, invoices for fees, expenses and all applicable taxes will be rendered to the individual who initiates the Family Conference. All accounts are due and payable when rendered.

The Estate Mediation Group



Estate Mediation

Family Conferences



M. Gaylanne Phelan

Genevieve A. Chornenki

Barry S. Corbin


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