This week – family traditions and are you in between?

This e-zine was originally sent on September 4, 2009.

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“It is the responsibility of every adult to make sure that children hear what we have learned from the lessons of life and to hear over and over that we love them.”
– Marian W. Edelman

Hi Collin County Parents,

Well the weather is finally getting a little “cooler” and things are getting into more of a rhythm for the whole school routine. The kids are enjoying their new schools and it is time for the all American past-time — Hockey! Okay, okay, for most of you that is football, and the Cowboys are great and all, but it just doesn’t compare to when the Dallas Stars are clicking on all cylinders (although the last time they did THAT was a few years ago).

Does your family have traditions? I really didn’t realize this was a tradition until one of the kids pointed out that this is something we always do — every time their mom has to work late, the girls always ask to go to Pancho’s Mexican Buffet. Now a lot of people have a love/hate relationship with Pancho’s. Some love it. Some could really do without (like my mother, sister, and wife). The girls though really like it, but since their mom doesn’t, we don’t go much. BUT when it’s just us, we seem to always pile into the car, head to Pancho’s and stock up (read, gorge) on flautas, enchiladas, chile rellenos, and make ourselves sticky (well the girls do) filling their sopapillas to the brim with honey. It is just a fun time alone with the kids. What do you guys do with the kids when the other parent is gone?

This week, I’d like to ask: are you in between?

Now, I’m actually not talking about in between *jobs*…that’s a subject for another day.  No, what I’m referring to is what’s been called the “Sandwich Generation”.  It’s those people, mostly mothers, caring for their aging parents while still supporting children of their own.  A recent poll put their number at about 20 million.

In fact, it was the subject of a recent documentary on PBS, about the very real challenges faced by these families.

(view the trailer, and even the entire documentary here: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/caringforyourparents/watchonline/index.html)

Aaron Miller’s
“Straight Talk” Personal Strategy
Caring For The Elderly–While Taking Care of Kids

For adults thrust into the role of caring for their parents, the biggest struggle often comes from trying to keep their dual responsibilities segregated.  They try to ensure that the needs of the aging parent don’t impact what’s going on in their children’s lives.

As an example, the adult children feel like they have to choose between making sure that Mom takes a walk for exercise and attending a child’s piano recital.  No matter what the adult parent chooses, he or she often feels like a failure at everything.

What you need to realize is that this process is not something that you can keep separated in your life.  You’ll do your family a great service by viewing it as an experience to be shared with everyone in the family, and maybe even with some members of the outside community.

If you find yourself in this situation here are 3 practical tips I would offer:

1) Get the Actual Facts. You may have avoided talking with your parents about finances in the past.  Whether you were taught that those things are private or “it just never came up,” now is not the time for surprises.  You need to know how your parents are doing financially and whether they’ve made any provisions in case they become ill or suffer a long-term disability.  Help them understand that you want this information so you can best help them, not because you are trying to take control of them or take away any of their autonomy.

2) Ensure the Estate is Set Up Right. At this stage of your parent’s life it’s important to make sure that your parent’s legal house is in order.  No matter where you get it done, your parents absolutely need to have a financial power of attorney, advance health care directive (a health care power of attorney plus a living will), and at least a simple will.  You should also consider Medicaid planning.  But, if you can’t do those things, at least ensure they’ve got the bare minimum in place that you’ll need to help care for your parents.

3) Insure Against the Future. Now is the time to examine long-term-care insurance or assess whether savings will cover an extended nursing home stay, assisted-living facility costs or extended home-care services.  You may be tempted to begin to liquidate your holdings or stop saving for your own benefit to help pay for the cost of your parent’s care.  Big mistake.

Remember that there aren’t nearly the same kind of government programs or lending scenarios that will help you pay for your kids, or their college or fund your retirement, as there are to help support aging parents.  It’s vital that you continue to save for your own retirement.

Hope this helps!

To your family’s wealth, health, and happiness!

Aaron Miller

Miller Law Firm, PLLC
Estate Planning For Parents
101 E. Park Blvd., Suite 600
Plano, Texas 75074
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Written by Miller Law Office

Miller Law Office

The Miller Law Office is here to help you build and protect your legacy. Rather than having a traditional estate planning practice, which is focused on transactions (such as the drawing up of wills and other documents), we have a more relational focus – having on-going contact with clients over the long-term, helping clients to protect themselves and their families.