Legal Matters

Tips for the Sandwich Generation in Dealing with Parents


The term “sandwich generation” was created by Dorothy Miller, a social worker, in 1981 to define adults that provide care for aging parents while also raising their children and earning a living. Journalist Carol Abaya analyzed the term even further and identified three categories:  Traditional- Those sandwiched between aging parents who need care and/or help and their own children. Club Sandwich- Those in their 50s-60s sandwiched between aging parents, adult children and grandchildren, or those in their 30s-40s, with young children, aging parents and grandparents.
Open Faced- Anyone else involved in elder care.

Adult children often “inherit” the care of their parents very suddenly. Many parents insist on retaining their independence and do not share important information with their children until an event occurs that forces the adult child to take over the parent’s business. Weeks and months may be spent trying to determine what a parent owns and what bills need to be paid. Here are a few tips to help adult children cope with their new role:

  1. Forward the parent’s mail to a location where the child will have easy access to the mail. Review all mail for statements and bills. Over the course of several months, the child should have a good grasp of the parent’s financial accounts and bills.
  2. Set up a filing system to keep track of all monthly statements, bills, insurance policies, and legal documents.
  3. Request copies of all insurance policies.
  4. Locate any legal documents: Durable Power of Attorney, Healthcare Power of Attorney, Living Will, Revocable Living Trust, Last Will and Testament, etc.
  5. Meet with an elder law attorney to review legal documents to make certain they are up-to-date and contain the authority needed to handle matters for an elderly parent (often, they do not).
  6. If the parent does not have a Durable Power of Attorney or Healthcare Power of Attorney and cannot make decisions for himself or herself, talk with an attorney about obtaining Guardianship and Conservatorship.
  7. Meet with an elder law attorney to discuss a life care plan for the parent; especially if the parent is still competent to make business decisions. Now is the time to develop a comprehensive plan regarding long term care and financial options. These plans can enable the family to make choices that provide the best care for the parent while also preserving assets and maintaining the parent’s estate planning wishes.
  8. If the parent is not competent to make decisions, it is still important to meet with an elder law attorney to develop a strategy for best caring for the parent, extending assets for long term care and preserving assets.

Caring for an aging parent can be overwhelming; but, it can be less stressful if early planning is done to ascertain the immediate situation and prepare for the future.

screen-shot-2016-09-26-at-10-16-54-pmscreen-shot-2016-09-26-at-10-17-27-pmMelanie B. Bradford 

Partner, Bradford & Holliman, LLC

Practice focuses on estate planning, elder law and special needs trust.

2491 Pelham Parkway, Pelham, Ala. 35124


This article is for educational purposes and is not intended for specific legal advice.

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