National Public Radio has a new radio mini-series set to air weekly for the next few months. The program, “Family Matters,” focuses on financial planning for multigenerational households. Our New York elder law estate planning attorneys have worked with many local families in this situation, often with aging parents who move in with adult children when their health deteriorates.
One of the first episodes of the program delves directly into elder law issues. The program shares the story of a family that was forced to make many adjustments when a woman’s 84-year old father needed a caretaker. The woman explained that the adjustment was not easy. Not only did the job of caretaker not come naturally, but figuring out how to make it all work financially seemed a near-impossible challenge.
There remains a stark contrast between public expectations about the need to conduct long-term care planning for aging parents and the reality. For example, an Aflac WorkForces Report found that only 13% of individuals claimed that they thought long-term care planning would affect their households. This is likely why, according to some estimates, fewer than one in five families take even the most basic steps to prepare legally and financially to care for aging parents.
However, while families may not expect these issues to affect them, caring for aging parents is becoming a reality for more and more residents. The MetLife Mature Market Institute found that “the percentage of adult children providing personal care and/or financial assistance to a parent has more than tripled over the past fifteen years.” This shift has been caused by a variety of factors, including a growing elderly population and rising life expectancy rates.
A theme throughout the radio program is the need to re-adjust expectations. Most families understand that they may be providing financial support to children–even adult children. The flowing of money from older generations to younger generations seems natural. However, far fewer families consider the possibility that they will have to financially support aging parents who may have seen their life savings exhausted.
Times remain tough for many families, but the pressures can be overwhelming when families are forced to deal with their own issues on top of helping adult children and parents. When it comes to preparing for these potential costs, timing is crucial. Our New York elder law attorneys know that there is a world of difference between trying to handle a parent’s declining health or medical emergency when no planning has been done compared with having a Power of Attorney, Health Care Proxy, a Medicaid Asset Protection Trust and other legal strategies in place.
Those interested in learning more about the radio program can take a look at the NPR series website here.
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