Articles: Issues for the “sandwich” generation
Are you part of the “sandwich generation”? That is the name bestowed on individuals who are raising young chil- dren and facing the responsibilities of caring for elderly relatives. You will often find yourself stuck in the middle.
In particular, you may have to deal with a number of sensitive matters, including the long-term needs of elderly parents or inlaws. One practical approach is to organize a family “forum” covering critical estate-planning issues. Here are a few points you might discuss in your get-togethers:
Financial documents: Where do the parents keep financial statements, bank account records, mutual fund statements, life insurance policies, etc.? Let them know that this discussion is not being held to invade their privacy, but that they must make provisions to ensure they will receive all the money they are entitled to if they suffer an illness. Write down important names and numbers (and make a copy for the parents to keep).
Tax information: Similarly, you need to have access to the tax information of elderly parents (e.g., past returns, current transactions, required filings, etc.) Review their situation periodically and do not hesitate to consult professional tax advisers. Note: Following the death of a parent, complications may arise from “income in respect of a decedent.”
Investments: If elderly relatives have been handling their own investments, it may be a good time for the family to sit down with a professional investment adviser. The advisor can help balance their portfolio to achieve all their objectives.
Wills: With a legally enforceable will in place, the parents may be able to ensure that their assets will be distributed according to their wishes. Their wills can be reviewed periodically to reflect changes in their personal circumstances., tax law revisions, etc. For instance, if another grandchild has been born, they will probably want to make sure that he or she receives a fair share of the assets.
Health Care: Talk to elderly parents about their preferences in the event that one or both of them becomes disabled. Some of the possible choices are home health care, a nursing home, a continuing-care retirement community or living with a family member. Even if the parents are still in good health, it will not hurt to investigate some of the possibilities in the locations they prefer. Some parents have prepared “living wills” that eliminate some uncertainty.
These issues may be difficult to talk about, but they should not be ignored. Rely on your professional advisers to help guide you along.
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