By Elizabeth Andes Brown

Sandwich-generation-bbt-perspectivesCaregiving can be an overwhelming job whether it’s for your children or parents. In fact, individuals typically in their 40s or 50s find themselves responsible for supporting their own children and caring for aging parents. This generation is often referred to as the Sandwich Generation.

According to the Pew Research Center*, 47 percent of adults in their 40s and 50s in the U.S. find themselves in a similar situation. Many millennials are struggling with debt, underemployed and are far behind past generations in owning their own homes. Along with longer life spans of aging parents, this means many of us provide some level of care or financial support for our parents and children simultaneously.

I’m a member of the Sandwich Generation, currently navigating the path forward. My husband and I are taking care of a high schooler who plays multiple sports, helping our oldest son find his way to his first career and making sure two sets of parents are well-cared for and safe. Here are some tips that may help if you face a similar journey.

Helping Family Face the Future

The first step to dealing with the future is facing it. Have an open and honest conversation with your parents about their financial situation sooner rather than later. People naturally want to remain independent, so beginning to rely on your children and having that discussion may be uncomfortable. Asking your parents about their plans – where they want to live in the near and longer term and what arrangements they have made to accomplish their plans is a good way to start the conversation.

Understand the Financial Situation

Understanding the financial resources your parents have is a critical piece in this journey. Once you start the conversation about planning, help them assemble the information about what resources they have and where it is located. Your financial advisor should give you guidance about what to look for and what to ask. At BB&T, for example, we provide a Personal Document Locator. This useful document is designed to help you quickly retrieve valuable financial and personal information. It lists all assets, income and employee-benefit information, financial account information, estate planning information and important contacts. It can be used as a quick information guide when you need to make critical decisions.

Remember to Plan for Your Own Future

While you are helping everyone else, remember to set plans for yourself. You can’t help others if you aren’t in good shape, and that is true physically, mentally and financially. Additionally, you are setting an example for your children and, hopefully, easing their future burdens. In addition to your own planning, I have found a good wedding gift for children is to pay for their financial plan. Understanding saving, financial planning and preparing a route to a successful retirement improves everyone’s future.

Assembling the Right Team to Help

Facing challenges on your own is a natural desire, but planning for your own future and helping both children and parents is often overwhelming. Realize the task is too complex to face alone and there are knowledgeable experts prepared to help ease the burden. In addition to your attorney and CPA, having a financial advisor who understands your circumstances and can help you create a plan is critical. Your advisor should have access to experts – there are several areas where you’ll need in-depth knowledge, including: financial planning, trusts and estates, insurance and investments. Your team will help by having conversations with you and your parents to gain in-depth knowledge that should result in an integrated action plan that grows and matures as financial needs and lifestyle objectives change.

For example, the financial planner on the team will help create a financial plan to ensure your parent’s financial resources are applied to support their lifestyle now and into the future. The trust specialist will review your parents’ estate planning documents and make sure you and your parents understand how assets will flow. The insurance strategist will review any existing life and long-term care insurance policies and make recommendations on changes to policies if needed. The investment specialist will make sure liquid assets are invested per your parent’s preferred investment strategy.

The Future Can Be Bright

I feel fortunate I get to help navigate life’s journey with my children and parents. With honest conversations, solid planning, help from a knowledgeable, experienced financial team and family members, the Sandwich Generation can have an easier journey and a bright future, too!

*The Sandwich Generation, Pew Reseach Center, Jan. 30, 2013, PewSocialTrends.org

By Elizabeth Andes Brown

Caregiving can be an overwhelming job whether it’s for your children or parents. In fact, individuals typically in their 40s or 50s find themselves responsible for supporting their own children and caring for aging parents. This generation is often referred to as the Sandwich Generation.

According to the Pew Research Center*, 47 percent of adults in their 40s and 50s in the U.S. find themselves in a similar situation. Many millennials are struggling with debt, underemployed and are far behind past generations in owning their own homes. Along with longer life spans of aging parents, this means many of us provide some level of care or financial support for our parents and children simultaneously.

I’m a member of the Sandwich Generation, currently navigating the path forward. My husband and I are taking care of a high schooler who plays multiple sports, helping our oldest son find his way to his first career and making sure two sets of parents are well-cared for and safe. Here are some tips that may help if you face a similar journey.Sandwich-generation-bbt-perspectives

Helping Family Face the Future

The first step to dealing with the future is facing it. Have an open and honest conversation with your parents about their financial situation sooner rather than later. People naturally want to remain independent, so beginning to rely on your children and having that discussion may be uncomfortable. Asking your parents about their plans – where they want to live in the near and longer term and what arrangements they have made to accomplish their plans is a good way to start the conversation.

Understand the Financial Situation

Understanding the financial resources your parents have is a critical piece in this journey. Once you start the conversation about planning, help them assemble the information about what resources they have and where it is located. Your financial advisor should give you guidance about what to look for and what to ask. At BB&T, for example, we provide a Personal Document Locator. This useful document is designed to help you quickly retrieve valuable financial and personal information. It lists all assets, income and employee-benefit information, financial account information, estate planning information and important contacts. It can be used as a quick information guide when you need to make critical decisions.

Remember to Plan for Your Own Future

While you are helping everyone else, remember to set plans for yourself. You can’t help others if you aren’t in good shape, and that is true physically, mentally and financially. Additionally, you are setting an example for your children and, hopefully, easing their future burdens. In addition to your own planning, I have found a good wedding gift for children is to pay for their financial plan. Understanding saving, financial planning and preparing a route to a successful retirement improves everyone’s future.

Assembling the Right Team to Help

Facing challenges on your own is a natural desire, but planning for your own future and helping both children and parents is often overwhelming. Realize the task is too complex to face alone and there are knowledgeable experts prepared to help ease the burden. In addition to your attorney and CPA, having a financial advisor who understands your circumstances and can help you create a plan is critical. Your advisor should have access to experts – there are several areas where you’ll need in-depth knowledge, including: financial planning, trusts and estates, insurance and investments. Your team will help by having conversations with you and your parents to gain in-depth knowledge that should result in an integrated action plan that grows and matures as financial needs and lifestyle objectives change.

For example, the financial planner on the team will help create a financial plan to ensure your parent’s financial resources are applied to support their lifestyle now and into the future. The trust specialist will review your parents’ estate planning documents and make sure you and your parents understand how assets will flow. The insurance strategist will review any existing life and long-term care insurance policies and make recommendations on changes to policies if needed. The investment specialist will make sure liquid assets are invested per your parent’s preferred investment strategy.

The Future Can Be Bright

I feel fortunate I get to help navigate life’s journey with my children and parents. With honest conversations, solid planning, help from a knowledgeable, experienced financial team and family members, the Sandwich Generation can have an easier journey and a bright future, too!

*The Sandwich Generation, Pew Reseach Center, Jan. 30, 2013, PewSocialTrends.org

About the Author

Elizabeth Andes Brown

Elizabeth Andes Brown

Senior Vice President, Wealth Advisors Regional Director

Liz is a financial services industry veteran of more than 30 years. Her experience includes credit analysis and commercial lending in addition to wealth management. She earned her bachelor’s degree in business administration from Gettysburg College.