sandwiches on plate

The “Sandwich Generation” is a term coined to describe those who are caring for aging parents, as well as for their own children. Thanks to longer life spans and the fact that young couples are waiting longer to have children, an increasing number of people in their 40s and 50s are finding themselves challenged with these dual responsibilities.

Needless to say, having to look after two different generations of loved ones can present unique challenges, especially when it comes to estate planning and long-term care planning. Never mind the care and attention your parents and children need, the amount of time, energy and resources required to maintain this tricky balance can leave you unprepared for your own retirement and old age.

Luckily, there are a few steps you can take to balance your caretaking priorities, while also preparing for your own future.

Considerations for the Sandwich Generation

  1. First, make sure your own affairs are in order. Before you can provide for the needs of your parents, you first have to take care of yourself. Take a look at your finances to see what you’re working with. Make a list of all your assets and expenses, and determine how much money you can set aside for old age and retirement. Then, work with an estate planning attorney to ensure you have the proper documents in place to protect your family, your future, and your legacy.
  2. Assess the extent of your parent’s needs. Next, take an honest look at the physical, economic, and social health of your parents, and determine how much assistance they’ll need in the coming years. Some areas to consider in making your assessment are cognitive health, home safety, mobility, social interaction, and medical needs.
  3. Have “The Talk” with your parents. In many ways, this can be the hardest part, but it is important to involve your parents in the process, so they don’t feel like you’re making decisions about their future without any input on their part. It is important that you assure your parents that you’re not trying to take away their independence, and to remind them that you are helping to provide for both yourself and your children.
  4. Consider whether a conservatorship or guardianship is necessary for your parents. If your parents are suffering from dementia or another cognitive impairment, it may be necessary to make special arrangements for their well-being. Conservatorship and guardianship are two helpful options for managing this difficult situation. In these arrangements, a court appoints a person to make decisions about your parent’s care and property, whether that person is you or someone else. Establishing conservatorship or guardianship can be a lengthy legal process, and you will need to hire an estate planning attorney to help you navigate the process. If your parents are still healthy and cognizant, make sure to speak with an elder law attorney, as having the right documents in place now can save time, money, and a length court process trying to navigate conservatorship or guardianship later.
  5. Provide for your children. With all the focus on your parents, it can be easy to lose sight of protecting your children’s needs, both emotionally and financially.

It can be a difficult balancing act providing for two generations with vastly different needs, but you need not go it alone. An experienced estate planning attorney can assist you throughout all stages of this trying but important process.

At Miller Estate and Elder Law, we have many years of experience helping members of the Sandwich Generation navigate the complexities of their many responsibilities. Having the right legal documents in place now can save you from a major headache later. Contact us today to get started providing for your and your family’s future, or download our free guide, Caring for Aging Parents. Complete the brief form below to get your FREE guide today!

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