People are living longer and are having children later in life. Due to this combination of demographic factors, many more people are in the “Sandwich Generation.” Someone in the Sandwich Generation has elderly parents while they still have minor children. All too often, they are torn between their caregiving responsibilities for their children and for their parents. Here is an article regarding the Sandwich Generation which may be of interest.

If you’re part of the Sandwich Generation, how do you alleviate some of your stress? Planning is one of the best tools.

First, make sure you have a plan in place to care for you and your loved ones in the event you are unable to do so. Typically, this would entail some basic planning documents, such as a Revocable Trust which would hold your assets. In the event of your incapacity, your successor trustee would step in to manage your assets for the goals and people you’ve stated in your trust. A Pourover Will would send any assets you’ve omitted from the trust into the trust for management. A Property Power of Attorney would allow your Agent to manage any assets outside the trust during your lifetime. Your Agent could also act for you to file your taxes and do other essential tasks. A Healthcare Power of Attorney would appoint an Agent to make medical decisions for you in the event you are unable to make them for yourself. Finally, a HIPAA Power would appoint an Agent to be able to access your protected health information. Without such authorization, if you were in the hospital your Agent and other loved ones may be unable to find out information about your condition.

Once you have the basics covered, you’ll have someone in place who could make decisions for you if you were disabled or died. But you’d need to think if you’d have sufficient financial resources for them to take care of your caretaking responsibilities for your children and your parents. You may need to consider getting disability or life insurance to supplement your current financial resources. Those resources may be needed to replace the income or perform the duties which you took on when you were able.

After you take care of your own planning, you’d need to make sure your elderly parents have their planning in place, as well. This is essential. Otherwise, you may not have the authority to do what you need to do, care for them. Imagine your elderly parent falls at the grocery store while shopping with your daughter. Your daughter calls you from the emergency room. Without a HIPAA Power, the hospital may not release information to you regarding your parent’s condition. Further, unless you are your parent’s Healthcare Agent, you may not have the authority to direct the healthcare providers regarding the appropriate course of treatment for your parent.

If you are taking care of minor children and elderly parents, you are part of the Sandwich Generation. It’s essential you do your planning. The peace of mind you get from planning will help you…and those who rely on you.

Stephen C. Hartnett, J.D., LL.M.
Director of Education
American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc.
9444 Balboa Avenue, Suite 300
San Diego, California 92123
Phone: (858) 453-2128