Looking back on the past three years, we made a lot of plans to help us better communicate and attend to one another’s needs and wishes as a Sandwich Family. Honestly, it has taken a lot of effort to put all of these plans in place, but it has been completely worth the trouble. During my dad’s last few days, we did not have to waste time worrying about what he would have wanted or what was going to happen next. Instead, we had the luxury of focusing on saying goodbye to him.
Here are a few of the kinds of plans Sandwich Families (and, let’s be honest, ALL families) should seriously consider making and sharing. I’ll be writing more about each of these in coming weeks, so stay tuned:
- Estate plan: what do you want to happen to all of your stuff when you pass away? The ramifications of NOT having an estate plan (wills and trusts fall into this category) can be extremely serious and vary widely from state to state – and from family to family. If you do nothing else, make a will. Just do it. Your family might be angry with you about some of the decisions you make, but they will be your decisions.
- Living will: this includes your wishes about responding to a medical crisis, whether or not you want health care practitioners to use extraordinary measures to extend your life, and who gets to make these hard decisions on your behalf. This is scary stuff, but it can be so much worse to leave your loved ones wondering what you would have wanted.
- Budgets: are simple to prepare and can be very revealing. Drawing up even a rudimentary budget can provide valuable information to financial planners, attorneys, advocates and family alike. The very process of preparing a budget can show patterns and habits, and even possibly raise an alert if a scam or theft (including identity theft) has occurred.
- Passwords and access to documents: who can get to your accounts and files in an emergency? Are your passwords, accounts and physical documents secure?
- Benefits: are your benefits in order? Benefits documentation includes distribution of earnings from retirement plans and pensions, wishes about allocation of retirement savings and access to veterans benefits. This also includes your plan to pay for health care, whether it is provided by an employer or through a government program.
- Life care wishes: where and how do you want to live? Will you live in a nursing home if needed? Do you want to buy long-term care insurance?
- End-of-life plan: this can be a painful conversation, but so much better to have it than to be left bitterly confused and anxious during a health crisis or the earliest days of loss. Go to http://theconversationproject.org/ for excellent resources on this topic. (We wrote about this topic a few weeks ago.)
- Philanthropy: you won’t see this on many lists out there, but I am a firm believer in clearly stating your wishes related to how you want to support your favorite charities over time. Make a priority list so that your family can help you continue to give to the charities and religious institutions you cherish.
Leave a reply: what plans have you made, and which ones are you putting off for later?
Post written by Kay.
My name is Kay. I am an overly-busy American adult. I am no different from every other woman: kids, marriage, careers, houses, mortgages, health concerns. A few years ago, a series of events began in my life that at last I could not ignore, and the Great Recession put my parents’ retirement in jeopardy.
Throughout our trials, my husband and I realized that my family had been an unwavering support network. We lived two hours away from my parents, yet they made the trip to visit us quite often. Likewise, we visited them often, and we soon realized we were spending more and more time on our visits helping them keep up with the maintenance on their 5-acre property and house.
We encouraged my parents to consider selling their house and move someplace that required fewer resources to keep up, and we were thrilled when they finally told us they were ready! So we began the process of helping them clean up and clean out the house – and then had to face the reality that time and the Recession had taken their toll on the market for their property. Suddenly, it became clear that selling the house was not a feasible option.
At the same time, we were looking for a change in our life. We weren’t sure what we needed, but my husband, C, and I were feeling restless. So one day, I came home from work and asked C if we should consider moving closer to my parents, and when he immediately agreed, our decision was all but made. I found a new job and we got our kids ready to leave their friends and school.
Then, we did something that surprised even us: we decided to offer to buy the house from my parents and build an addition for them to live in! My parents were as shocked as we were at this offer, but they jumped at the chance, and in September of 2012, they moved into their attached cottage. We became the Sandwich Family.
We have learned a lot through this experience. This blog is our story, told from the perspective of me, the Sandwich Daughter, and MaryRob, the Sandwich Mother.