Have you ever felt squeezed between two opposing forces that the pressure seems almost unbearable? This is what it can feel like when you have to take care of your own children on one end and your aging parents on the other. Being sandwiched between two crucial and tremendous responsibilities to your family is not an easy task, and you are not alone in this predicament.
The Sandwich Generation
Adults in the so-called Sandwich Generation often times feel torn between attending to the needs of their kids and ensuring that their parents also receive the attention they deserve as they age.
You are said to be a part of the Sandwich Generation if you have to juggle between fulfilling the role of a parent, raising your family and the role of a responsible child to your parents who now need special care. Consequently, you will find yourself under a lot of physical, emotional, and financial pressure as you try to make it work.
You may be haunted by questions like:
- “What kind of care should I choose for my mom and dad?”
- “What is going to happen to their remaining assets?”
- “How will I handle the finances if they ever get sick?”
Just thinking about it may put you in a position where you do not know where to get the right answers. It certainly is overwhelming and exhausting to be in this position.
You cannot just give up or put your parents’ needs at the bottom of your priority list to free yourself of the pressures for a bit. At the end of the day, it is still you who has to deal with any issue that may arise, and it’s futile to wait for the worst to happen before you take action. You play a very important role in the lives of your loved ones, and it is important that you arm yourself with the right knowledge on how to deal with your position with confidence.
You must remember that the main goal is really to help you take good care of yourself because that is the only effective way you will be able to take care of others. This involves planning and dealing with potential problems in a proactive, rather than reactive way.
One thing that you can do to ensure the health and security of your parents when you are feeling squeezed at both ends is to make sure that they have a proper estate plan.
Estate Planning to the Rescue
If you are a Sandwich Generation caregiver, estate planning is a must. It is crucial that you take control of the situation and rely on legal planning to help.
The first thing to do is to check whether your parents have an estate plan or not. If they do not have one, that should be your first priority. Look for a qualified estate planning attorney as soon as possible as this elder lawyer is going to help with your parents’ trust and wills, health care documents, powers of attorney, long-term care planning, and the like.
A good estate plan lawyer will outline the documents needed to ensure that your parents have a complete estate plan that will suit their needs.
Elements of a Good Estate Plan
Revocable Living Trust
A revocable living trust is the foundation of an estate plan. It contains your instructions for your own care if you become disabled, as well as for the distribution of your assets upon your death. Your revocable living trust allows you to keep your instructions and financial affairs private and ensures that your instructions are carried out efficiently with unnecessary judicial involvement.
Power of Attorney
In this document, you appoint an agent to act for you if you become incapacitated. Your agent is authorized to manage your property, open your mail, pay your bills, and do further estate planning on your behalf, such as long-term care planning.
Other important parts of a full estate plan include advanced healthcare directives, HIPAA release, community property agreement, trust certification, and a portfolio binder which organizes your affairs to enable a successor trustee to know where key documents are such as life insurance policies and what your assets are.
Long-Term Care Planning
Medicare and private health insurance do not pay for long-term care services. The cost of long-term care services is about $7,000 per month. This will deplete an estate rapidly. So the question is, “Who in the world is going to pay for this?”
Medi-Cal benefits will cover the costs related to long-term and custodial care. But eligibility requirements for Medi-Cal are very strict. At first glance, most seniors initially have too many assets and too much income to qualify for benefits.
That is unless they engage in Medi-Cal planning with a qualified elder law attorney.
Updating Your Parent’s Estate Plans
If your parents already have an estate plan, you are one step ahead of the rest of the sandwich generation. In this case, it would be wise to be able to talk to your parents about it and find out who the executor of the plan is. This information is often not given in advance, but it will save the family a lot of inconvenience and drama if it is driven out in the open ahead of time. Open communication within the family is called for at this point.
It is also important to know where important documents are, including legal documents, so they can come in handy when you need them the most. For instance, it is good to have your parents’ health care directives with you, so it is ready in cases of emergency. Other important documents include insurance policies, titles, or deeds. Make a list of crucial information such as mortgage payments, bank accounts, safe deposit boxes, and the like.
Estate plans must be kept up-to-date to make sure that they are still valid or are within the bounds of state laws. To ensure that your parents' wishes are fulfilled to the fullest, being prepared is the best way to do it.
As you parents age, they depend on you to assist with their end of life care. By making sure that all necessary documents are in place and up to date, you will reduce any unnecessary burdens, and prepare yourself, your family, and your parents to welcome their age with ease.
At the Estate Planning Law Center, we are here to assist you with your parents' estate plan if you are a part of the sandwich generation. You can download our FREE Sandwich Generation Guide to gain more valuable insight into how to be prepared for this stage in life.
Please call us at (818) 292-8160 to discuss your situation. We have over 25 years of experience and offer a free consultation to discuss your options. Click here for more information about estate planning and how Richard M. Seff can help.