The “Sandwich Generation” refers to people in their midlife years tasked with taking care of aging parents while simultaneously supporting their children. According to the Pew Research Center, approximately half of adults in their 40s and 50s have a senior citizen parent, and these people are also either raising a child or providing financial support for a grown child. Fifteen percent provide financial support for both an elderly parent and a child. This reality presents unique challenges, as mid-lifers must deal with financial needs pertaining to three generations. They need to put aside money for their children’s college education (among other things), plan for their own retirement and assist their parents through medical and other crises. They also must deal with estate planning issues for all concerned.
That’s a lot of work, and those in the Sandwich often need lots of help.
Part 1 of this discussion provides an overview of how to plan for a parent.
Durable Power of Attorney
A power of attorney gives you legal authorization to act on the behalf of your parents with respect to their finances or medical care. The document must be of the durable variety, which means it stays in effect should your parents become mentally incapacitated. This provision will enable you to manage investments, pay bills and direct medical care.
Health Care Proxy
Sometimes called a health care representative or agent, a health care proxy designates you as the person who can make medical decisions involving medications, surgical procedures and end-of-life. Experts advise having a backup agent, so you may want to talk to your parents about giving this authorization to an additional sibling.
Since modern medical technology can keep people alive in a vegetative state for a long time, your parents need a living will to record their wishes regarding end-of-life care. These preferences cover a range of issues concerning (among other things) artificial nutrition, cardiopulmonary resuscitation and life-supporting treatment. Developing a written document of these directives can be a touchy project – who wants to contemplate such contingencies? However, the preparation should prevent you and other members of your family from having to make agonizing choices later.
Investigate long-term care insurance, and familiarize yourself with the assistance government programs like Medicare and Aid and Attendance (if your parents served in the military). “People should start planning as soon as possible to avoid being caught unprepared,” recommends Kiplinger.
Once you have discussed these issues with your parents, contact the estate planning attorneys at McChain, Miller, Nissman for a free consultation at (501) 221-7776. We can craft and draw up all the necessary documents and, more importantly, work with your family to make sure that your plans are values-driven and that they respect and preserve your parents’ hard-won legacy.