Stuck in the Middle: Planning Challenges for the Sandwich Generation

Stuck in the Middle: Planning Challenges for the Sandwich Generation

If you have parents and children alive at the same time, you are part of the Sandwich Generation.  This term describes the phenomenon of being “sandwiched” between elderly parents and dependent children.  A 2012 survey conducted by the Pew Research Center found that 47% of middle-aged adults (ages 40 to 59) have a parent aged 65 or older and are either raising a minor child or supporting a grown child.  About 15% of middle -aged adults are providing financial support to both an aging parent and a child. This is up 3% from 2005.

 Members of the Sandwich Generation often face financial and emotional challenges associated with simultaneously providing support to the generations above them and the generations below them.  However, there are some strategies members of this generation can use to successfully juggle the needs of a multi-generation family while maintaining their financial and emotional well-being.  Below are just a few examples of strategies that may be helpful in managing common issues confronting the Sandwich Generation:

 First and foremost, talk to your family.  Make sure all interested parties are involved and you have all of the information you need to make a long-term plan that meets everyone’s needs.  Talk to your siblings about who will be involved with caring for your parents and how.  You may want to read and share the book called “They’re Your Parents Too”.  You can find more out about this at http://www.yourparentstoo.com/.

  • Talk to your children about how they can take charge of their financial situation and work towards building their own secure future.
  • Start saving for the cost of college as early as possible.
  • Also, save for your own future by putting as much money as you can into a retirement plan.  Then, do your best to leave that money alone, letting it grow, tax deferred, until you retire.
  • Control your debt.  Work hard to pay debts off aggressively.
  • Plan for the future!  Don’t let day to day needs get in the way of planning for the long-term well-being of yourself and your family.  Create a financial plan that provides for an unexpected event, such as a parent’s illness.
  • Make sure you have disability insurance should you be unable to work yourself.
  • When creating an estate plan, you should generally leave assets to the generation below you.  You can certainly make provisions for assisting parents and other elderly family members.  But make sure it is done in a way that will avoid taxation problems or affect eligibility for government benefit programs.
  • You don’t have to do this alone.  Find experienced advisors to help you tackle any issues you are facing.  These advisors may include physicians and other medical personnel, financial planners, accountants, and attorneys.

 Members of the Sandwich Generation have responsibilities coming at them from all sides, which can be incredibly stressful.  A thorough, strategic retirement and estate plan should help to alleviate some of that stress and provide peace of mind.  If you are a member of the Sandwich Generation looking to provide a secure future for yourself and your family, contact our office at 888-822-8778 to set up a consultation.

Categories: Blog, Estate Planning

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