“The Sandwich Generation” is an interesting phenomenon occurring in the estate planning world. The term was coined to refer to the group of adults in the world today that must juggle the responsibilities of caring for their own families, including children, along with the responsibility of caring for their senior parents. Many adults who are part of the Sandwich Generation have these dual responsibilities and with them come the emotional, physical, and financial strain of caring for two generations of family.
It’s no secret that people are simply living longer than they did even a few decades ago. USA Today recently reported that people born in 2012 will have an average life expectancy of 78.8 years. According to the University of California, the average life expectancy in America during the 1970s was around 68 years, and the data suggests the expectancy will only continue to rise. What this means is that “The Sandwich Generation” will soon become the norm and it will be expected for adults to provide for their senior parent when they may be unable to do themselves.
The good news is that estate planning can alleviate this pressure by providing your parents with an affordable financial and health care plan as they age.
Sandwich Generation Step 1: Start the Difficult Conversation
The first step we recommend is to have a long talk with your parents about their wishes for long-term care. This can be a difficult conversation! No one likes to think about being in a situation where they can no longer care for themselves and have to rely on others. However, having a sound plan in place will bring comfort and a peace of mind for the whole family. It’s important to talk about what type of care they want now while they are still in good health and of sound mind, because what is most important is the plan reflects their wishes and how they want to live the rest of their lives.
Sandwich Generation Step 2: Ask the hard questions
Sit down with your parents in a comfortable and non-threatening environment. We recommend asking them questions about their healthcare and financial future, such as:
- What kind of lifesaving procedures would they want performed. Do they want to be on life support or a feeding tube. Do they want support when they are in a coma or in a bedridden state?
- Who do they want to make important healthcare decisions for them, if they are unable to do so?
- Who do they want to make important financial decisions for them, if they are unable to do so? Should the same person make either decisions or the powers be separated between two people?
- Do they want to living in a nursing home or an assisted living facility, or would they rather live at home and be assisted by someone?
- Do they have wills or trusts that are up to date?
Sandwich Generation Step 3: Determine how to pay for long-term care
According to LongTermCare.Gov, long-term care can cost as much as $6,000.00 per month for a semi-private nursing home, and $3,500.00 for an assisted living care. Home health aides can cost as must as $30 per hour, which doesn’t account for the likely additional expenses of other needed medical equipment and services.
So what about Medicare and Medicaid; how much does government assistance pay for?
What many people do not realize is that Medicare only pays for the first 100 days in a nursing home for those needing skilled nursing care, which is needed when someone falls or has a stroke. Medicare also does not provide for custodial care, which is where an elder needs help bathing, feeding, and toileting themselves. There is also the issue of Medicaid and whether it can apply to seniors with assets. Usually Medicaid does not apply to those with assets, or income, over the meager limitations the government has set. Therefore, most long term care is expensive and may require the children to help foot the bill.
Additionally, without government assistance, long term care can also eat into any inheritance senior parents were hoping to leave to their loved ones. This is why we recommend Medicaid planning, which is permitted by the government as a safe and secure way to protect a family’s money. We specialize in designing irrevocable trusts, and other estate planning tools, to shield assets and ensure a senior can take full advantage of any government assistance usually provided for long term elder care.
If you feel you may be unable to handle the financial burden of providing for your parents you may want to consider an estate plan. Having the difficult conversation with your parents today about their healthcare and financial future is the first step. By asking these hard questions now we at the Law Office of David Goldman can help your family plan for affordable long term care. If you are a member of The Sandwich Generation contact The Law Office of David M. Goldman or call us today at 904-685-1200.