How should members of the “sandwich generation” protect themselves and their loved ones?
Members of the sandwich generation, those responsible for aging parents and children (even adult children) simultaneously, may experience a great deal of stress, financially as well as emotionally. In such cases, a skilled estate planning attorney can be a godsend.
The sandwich generation has grown rapidly during the last several decades. Research has shown that over 30 percent of baby boomers and over 40 percent of generation Xers are supporting both a young or adult child and an aging parent. How did this happen?
There are several reasons for the rocketing increase in members of the sandwich generation. Among them are increased longevity and its concomitant increased medical costs. Caring for aging parents with medical ailments at the same time as coping with the expense of one’s own encroaching health issues can be daunting.
Another contributing factor is the increasing costs of higher education. While young children have always been dependent on their parents for financial support, the situation has worsened as college education has become more and more expensive. Students and parents now incur debt during the youngsters’ college years and frequently students try to save money by living in their parents’ homes long after they graduate. During recent years of recession, when unemployment was abnormally high, even for educated workers, this situation was exacerbated.
For people experiencing the crunch of being sandwiched between needy parents and dependent children, professionals should be consulted. It is of paramount importance that individuals sandwiched between the generations take care of themselves, remembering that, unless they put on their own oxygen masks first, they will be unable to care for either their children or their parents. Recommendations to protect one’s own assets may include:
- Not withdrawing savings from retirement accounts, even when tempted
- Chipping in with siblings to purchase long-term care for parents while they are reasonably young
- Investing in long-term healthcare insurance while your age makes it more affordable
- Not investing beyond a sensible risk-tolerance level in hopes of saving the family
- If possible, avoid taking out a home equity line of credit
- Applying for government assistance, such as Medicaid, when necessary, to fund parental care
- Considering the possibility that you may be making an adult child permanently dependent by supporting him or her
When you find yourself uncomfortably sandwiched between your parents and your children, why not consult with Brian Chew, a knowledgeable and experienced asset protection attorney, at OC Wills & Trusts. Proudly serving clients throughout Orange County, California, he can be reached at 949.347.5256.