Brandon Elder Law Lawyer, Laurie Ohall, speaks to the importance of having a legal plan in place when you are caring for aging parents and young children at the same time.
We are all very busy living life. The daily grind of work and taking care of the family keeps you hopping, I’m sure. However, there may soon come a time when your parents will need you too. People are living longer and longer and as a result, there is a whole generation of people who are sandwiched between caring for their children and caring for their aging parents. There’s even a name for this group of people – the Sandwich Generation.
If you are currently in the Sandwich Generation, you understand the stress of being stuck in between the managing the responsibility of your parent’s well-being and your own kids. For those of you not yet there, you can make things easier for you and your parents by preparing in advance. But, it requires an essential, but sometimes uncomfortable, conversation.
The conversation you must have with your parents involves two difficult topics: money and end-of-life decisions.
Where’s your money?
Oh, the “m” word. In our society, we’ve been taught that discussing money is taboo. But, if you don’t know your parent’s financial situation, now is the time to ask. Even if your parents are able to maintain control over their financial affairs now, there is a high probability that you will need to help, or even take over, in the future. Make sure that your parents understand that you do not intend to immediately take over their financial affairs, but you want to be prepared so that if necessary, you will do the best possible job. Explain that if they become incapacitated, someone needs to step in until they regain their health and if that’s you, money conversations are something that will eventually need to be had.
Mom, it’s time to move.
You should also discuss and prepare for the possibility that your parents may no longer be able to live in their home alone someday. This is a tough one, because some view leaving their home as completely losing their independence. You may already be at the point where your parents need other living arrangements. If you don’t expect your parents to react well to the suggestion of moving out of their home, solicit help from others. If your parent has had an injury, let the doctor know that it would be very helpful if he or she brought the touchy topic up during a visit. For some reason, some parents won’t hear you – perhaps because they still see you as their child. But they will probably listen to someone else. Even if you are both saying the same thing!
I’m not dying yet!
Talking to your parents about end-of-life issues is also tough. But, you need to find out what they would choose in terms of medical intervention. Do they want to avoid artificial nutrition and hydration if there is no hope of recovery? Believe me, you will be much better off if you feel comfortable about what they would have chosen if you are the one being asked to decide. You should also have a conversation about the type of funeral they’d like to have. Explain to your parents that having this information means that you will experience less stress and family squabbles when making difficult decisions down the road.
A word about timing…
We highly recommend that you talk to your parents while they are still healthy and active. If you haven’t, and circumstances such as a medical crisis is pushing you to act, it’s going to be rough. So plan now, while your parents can have a say and you can cross your t’s and dot your I’s without pressure.
One of the very best ways you can encourage your parents to tackle their planning is to set a good example yourself! Why not go ahead and get your affairs in order? It would probably be much easier if they knew you would be going through this process with them. There’s also the added bonus of making sure your family will be OK if something should happen to you. Call us today at (813) 438-8502 to schedule an estate planning consultation for your parents and yourself. Believe me; it is much easier for everyone if we can work together before a medical or life crisis has occurred.