To establish that connection, Barry Freedman offers periodic family financial forums where he invites clients, their parents and their adult children to discusses inter-generational financial planning issues. And he insists on having both spouses present for most client meetings. "If I never see one spouse, I ask the client why," he says. "I've given away a few clients who strained the relationship by refusing to share financial responsibility with a spouse."

Getting both spouses involved also makes it easier for the survivor to handle financial matters and for the advisor to spend less time bringing him or her up to speed. "I once worked with a widow who had to be taught from scratch how to write a check," says Freedman. "Dealing with a spouse who has been kept in the dark about finances can be very, very difficult."

Arranging meetings with adult children may prove more difficult. Geographic constraints, as well as the emotionally charged nature of revealing the details of parental finances, impose formidable barriers. "We encourage clients to bring their adult children to meetings, but that often doesn't happen because they live far away," says Edward Stuart, an advisor at Regent Atlantic Capital LLC, in Chatham, N.J. "Practically speaking, people prefer to deal with someone locally."

Stuart estimates that only about one-fifth of the firm's clients feel comfortable about having their children present at meetings. "Older clients in their seventies or eighties are usually more open to the idea because they are more willing to acknowledge their own mortality," says Stuart. "They may also have come to depend on their children more than recent retirees, so they feel less uncomfortable about sharing personal information with them."

Budros concurs that older clients are more likely to discuss intergenerational financial issues. "A recently retired couple in their early sixties almost never agrees to it," he observes.

Budros routinely conducts an "estate planning fire drill" for clients willing to open the door to family estate planning discussions. Like a grade school fire drill, the exercise runs through what might happen in a tragedy so that family members are better prepared when it eventually occurs. "The words 'fire drill' convey a sense of urgency, which might influence family members to attend," says Budros. "The meeting also creates the perception that our services are intergenerational."

Typically, the drill will include detailed discussions about the estate plan, financial assets, family roles and responsibilities, and expenses for settling the estate. Family reaction to various aspects of the estate plan prompts parents to make changes about half the time, says Budros.

After a client death, the nature of financial advisor interaction with family members shifts. At times, they might find themselves caught in the crossfire of familial discord. Barry Freedman recalls one funeral at which one of the deceased's children instructed him not to talk to the other two siblings about financial matters pertaining to the estate. In another instance, a child requested a check from an account that named him as beneficiary because he needed the money for a house closing, even though the estate had not yet been settled. Freedman suggested he speak with the executor.

Despite such hazards, Freedman says none of the inheritors he's dealt with have changed advisors. And some advisors find that connecting with family members not only preserves old accounts, but helps build new business. Stuart recalls when one man, named a trustee for a trust account established by a former client, appointed his firm as an investment advisor for the trust. Eventually, he also tapped the firm to manage his personal investments, as well as the portfolios of several relatives.

Mogil says that financial advisors who want to retain business from inheritors need to be sensitive to their new client's investment profile and comfort level. Mogil heads an organization called, which he describes as "a peer network of individuals exploring the impact of wealth in their lives." Judging from the experiences of other members, the attitude of his grandmother's financial advisor was not unique.