Since the late 1970’s, the focus of my business experience has been providing trust services to the retired and soon-to-be retired population primarily in central and southern New Jersey. As an aside, in Ocean County alone there are 92 adult communities as of October 2014.
Most choose to retire in these retirement communities because of the close proximity to their family. Far enough away to be independent yet close enough to share holidays and comfort knowing in case of a medical emergency family is close by. The children or nieces and nephews of this aging population are becoming known as the “sandwich” generation. I wrote about the sandwich generation a while ago but since the overall theme of this month’s Familyaffaires.com issue is aging, I thought I would revisit this important topic.
So you choose to live in a retirement community that is close to immediate family for the reasons I mentioned above, but what you didn’t plan on is your immediate family moving away where distance now becomes an issue. Let’s use children as an example. Your child who you counted on being there in case of an emergency is transferred from New Jersey to Charlotte, North Carolina.
Now he or she is busy with raising their family and tending to their new job and cannot see you as frequently as before. Because of aging, you now require more attention with your personal financial needs such as bill paying and tending to investment matters, as well as your health needs so your child makes weekend trips to help with these issues. Your child is now “sandwiched” with trying to meet the personal needs of their growing family and their parent’s needs. The result is an incredible amount of personal stress!
I can personally attest to this. About 10 years ago, before my father died he was in a nursing home. My mom did not drive, so every day Monday through Friday I would leave work early to drive my mom to the nursing home to visit dad and after the visit I would take her out to dinner to be sure I knew she was eating. This routine went on for months on end where I was never at home for dinner during the week and knowing that I had to squeeze a full day’s work in a shorter work day. My brother took over these responsibilities on weekends. The stress was incredible.
One suggestion to help alleviate at least the management of the personal financial needs of the parents by the child is to have the parents establish a stand-by trust with a local trust company or trust department of a bank as co-trustee with the child. While the parents are in good health this trust remains unfunded.
This trust only becomes funded when a need arises such as health reasons. When funded, assets are transferred to the trust and now the trustee will help to manage the assets, pay bills, arrange for tax returns to be prepared, arrange for home health aides, etc. The corporate trustee is in contact with the co-trustee, the child, and nothing can be done without the child’s approval. And, most important all of this can be accomplished over the telephone avoiding the need for the child to make frequent trips north to tend to these details.