As a member of the Sandwich Generation, you might feel like you’re caught in a vise. The pressures are intense when you’re struggling to raise a child and care for an elderly parent at the same time, and your responsibilities extend across three generations. So what can you do to manage, protect your sanity and ensure everyone’s safety and happiness? In Part 1, we discussed how to protect an elderly parent. In today’s post, we’ll get more personal and address how to manage your and your children’s future.
Durable Power of Attorney and Health Care Proxy
Although the mere thought of your son or daughter becoming seriously ill or injured strikes terror to your heart, make arrangements for every contingency. Depending on your situation, consider creating documents of durable power of attorney and health care proxy both for yourself and for your children, just as you did for your parents.
Name a Guardian
In your younger years, you may have named a parent as a guardian of your children in the event of your death. Now that your parents are elderly, choose another legal guardian (e.g. a sibling or a trusted lifelong friend) for any child under the age of 18.
Investigate Tax Breaks
If you provide more than one-half of a parent’s yearly support of food, housing, clothing and medical care, you can claim him or her as a dependent on your tax form. This process will make several tax breaks available, the most important of which will involve being able to deduct medical expenses. In addition, if your parent doesn’t claim himself or herself as a personal exemption, you can claim it.
Make a Financial Plan
You need a detailed financial plan that encompasses your and your family’s needs and legacy. This process involves more than just finding the right balance when contributing to your 401(k) and to your children’s education fund. It requires three basic steps.
- You bravely and thorough assess what’s true about your situation and goal right now. What are your needs? What are your assets and debts? What are your goals? What are your constraints? What do your children and parents need?
- Ideally, with the help of an experienced estate planning attorney, assess the suite of tools and financial instruments at your disposal, and create a plan.
- Regularly maintain and revise that plan going forward to stay current and to modify the approach based on new information.
It can be overwhelming to think about financial planning for yourself, let alone for your whole extended family. But remember this quote from Jill Bolte Taylor, “To experience peace does not mean that your life is always blissful. It means that you are capable of tapping into a blissful state of mind amidst the normal chaos of a hectic life.”
The experienced attorneys at McChain, Miller, Nissman can help you manage the windy road ahead. Call to schedule a free consultation with us at (501) 221-7776.