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What is a Sandwich Family?

Post written by Kay.

My definition of a Sandwich Family is: a family that bears primary responsibility for at least three generations simultaneously. That responsibility could be daily living and care, financial, health and wellness, legal, or a combination of all of those.

In my family, this means my husband, our school-age children, and I live next door to my mother. So my husband and I are the “filling” in our particular sandwich.

But your sandwich could look very different from ours. Perhaps the older generation in your family lives far away or in a retirement community, and you have financial and healthcare power of attorney responsibilities for them, while your children are in college. Maybe you have always been the daily companion for a beloved aunt who lives across town but you don’t have any legal responsibility for her, you are divorced and your children are still quite young. It could be that you are retired and share your home with your adult children and your grandchildren. Or maybe, like a friend of mine, you are currently rearranging your life so you can move your spouse and family halfway across the world to take care of your aging father.

In short, being a Sandwich Family is complicated, stressful, difficult,¬†and hard to understand if you don’t live in it (and often hard to understand even when you do live in it), but it can also be rewarding, at times lovely, meaningful, and filled with acts of devotion and love. Basically, Sandwich Families are just like any other daily family, but with an extra generation layered on top.

What does your Sandwich Family look like? Leave a comment below!

Post photo: pixzolo on unsplash


Peace of Mind Paperwork

We never could have anticipated that my dad, Harv, would die so suddenly in March. Since then, I think we all have become closer. But we have had to go through a lot of grief to get here, which I will write about another time. I still don’t think I’m quite up to writing about that emotional journey, so I will have to save that for another time.


But one of the things we did NOT have to go through was worry about paperwork and legal issues like wills, disposition of bank accounts and how property would change hands. When we began this journey as the Sandwich Family, we very quickly found an expert on elder financial planning to guide us through the legalities and technicalities of our situation. The legal structure and paperwork we had already established as a family was one of the greatest blessings we could have hoped for when Dad was struck ill so swiftly.

If you have not begun to plan for your family’s legal disposition and security, there is no time to start like now. Find a financial planner who is qualified to deal with the complexities of a multigenerational family. Check references to make sure you have found someone who is capable of guiding you, and establish a trusting relationship with him or her or the firm as soon as possible. Give your family the peace of mind that comes from sorting out your affairs, and do it today.

Leave a comment: Do you have a financial planner? What have your experiences working with him or her been like?

Post written by Kay.


Social Security Confusion

Social_security_cardMy mother has been getting the run-around about claiming my father’s monthly Social Security check now that he is gone. We understand that the system is plagued with fraud and that she might need to prove her identity (and even show proof of their 50-year marriage). We understand that sometimes systems as large as this one can get backed up. Yet we were baffled as to what exactly was standing in the way of what certainly must be a run-of-the-mill request.

Yesterday, my mother announced that she had finally gotten to the bottom of the problem. It seems that she has been having trouble because she worked and has her own Social Security account. She has to file extra paperwork to claim my father’s benefits instead of her own (which is her right according to the law).

This doesn’t seem so shocking in and of itself, except that neither a funeral director nor a savvy financial planner knew about this rule. And a call to Social Security didn’t reveal this answer, so Mom had to go to the Social Security office herself to investigate in person. And, she still can’t get it resolved until she has a phone appointment with Social Security – in 3 weeks.

I don’t know why I have been surprised and upset by this. I should know better than to expect a system as large as Social Security to run smoothly. Yet, I keep feeling as if my grieving mother should not have to put up with such shenanigans. I feel as if she should be treated with respect, dignity, and maybe even a little sympathy. I feel as if our system should recognize that we have all been through a terribly stressful and traumatic event and should treat us all with a little humanity.

Leave a comment: what financial transitions have surprised you and your transitioning family?

Post written by Kay.


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