by Linda T. Cammuso
The sandwich generation is defined as “a generation of people who care for their aging parents while supporting their own children.” In the United States, the month of July is recognized as Sandwich Generation Month to honor the dedication of adults who care for their children as well as their own aging parents. While both men and women are sandwiched, women are sandwiched more often than men. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the roughly 20 million women in this sandwich generation devote 2.4 billion hours of their time to their children and their elder parents each year.
Undoubtedly today’s women are proactive and resourceful. They fill many critical and responsible roles on the local, national and even on the world stage in their careers, as parents, and as caretakers for aging parents. Once they enter this realm, they find themselves juggling financial, healthcare, and estate planning needs not only for themselves and their children but for their parents as well.
If you are among the millions who have become a caretaker for an aging parent who, because of Alzheimer’s, memory loss or other physical condition can no longer care for themselves, are you prepared for the pressures that you will face as you become the driver of all that’s entailed: caring for the financial, legal, and emotional needs for three generations? Do you fully understand how you can do all that without putting your own fiscal well-being at risk?
The key, if you find yourself in this situation, is to plan before it is too late. Start by hiring an attorney specializing in elder care and estate planning to direct you, to answer your questions and explain the important legal documents and options that you should have at your disposal such as:
- Durable Power of Attorney
- Health Care Proxy
- Wills –and why alone, they are not adequate estate planning
- Trusts and their benefits in protecting assets and reducing or eliminations income and transfer taxes
- Medicaid/MassHealth and the five-year “look-back period”
- Veteran’s Benefits
- Guardianship and Conservatorship
Another key step is to meet with your own, or your parents’, financial planner to ensure that finances are in order.
If you are a member of the sandwich generation or are facing such a life move, there are things you need to do now. Contact the professionals – an elder law/estate planning attorney, and financial planner to help develop legal and financial solutions to help make your transition to caretaker easier.
To learn more please click on the following articles by Attorney Linda Cammuso: