It just occurred to me that I am firmly part of the “Sandwich Generation.” My mom is 87 years “young” and my children are ages 6, 5, and 2. Although my mom lives independently and is in relative good health for an 87-year-old, I am “responsible” for both my parent and my children…at the same time.

As part of the Sandwich Generation, my counterparts, in their 30s and 40s, and I are taking care of our aging parents all while supporting our young children. More and more, my high school classmates come to me because they have lost a parent or one of their parents has suffered a major medical setback (illness, stroke, injury) and they have to take charge.

At any rate, we’re all getting to that age now where our surviving parents are becoming ever more dependent on us to help them make fiscal and health care decisions for them.

Here are a few documents that I suggest you and your parents need to ensure that you can help them and plan for that “day” that they leave us.

Durable Power of Attorney. This power of attorney (POA) allows you (the “attorney-in-fact”) to handle a wide array of financial matters for your parent (known as the “principal”) including, but not limited to, real estate transactions, banking, claims and litigation. The POA is not irrevocable. If your parent wants to choose a successor attorney-in-fact or “fire” you because you aren’t “handling the business right,” they can. If your parent becomes incapacitated due to illness or infirmity, then the POA remains in effect.

Appointment of Health Care Representative (a/k/a Health Care Power of Attorney). This special kind of power of attorney kicks in when your parent becomes incapacitated and unable to make health decisions on their own (in Indiana, at least). The Health Care Representative can consult with the patient’s doctors, therapists, and obtain protected health information (medical records). Most importantly, a Health Care Power of Attorney gives you the ability to make end-of-life decisions consistent with your parents’ wishes.

Transfer on Death Deed. This may be the single-most important document in small estate planning. Also known as a “TOD” Deed, it automatically transfers ownership of real property to the named beneficiaries upon the death of the landowner without having to go through the expensive, time-consuming probate process. Some of the best highlights of the TOD Deed is that the landowner(s) is (are)  the sole landowner(s) of the real property during their lifetime. That means, the landowner is free to sell, rent, refinance, or even gift the property during their lifetime. The real property does not transfer to the beneficiaries until the landowner dies. Compared to “joint owners with rights of survivorship,” creditors of the “joint owner” can go after the real property; with a TOD Deed, they cannot go after the prospective property of a beneficiary.

Funeral Planning Declaration. In Indiana, this is a simple “wish list” of what you want your funeral to entail from the selection of the funeral home, whether you want to be cremated or buried, and what songs you want performed at your “homegoing” service. Sandwich generation, you can start going over this form with your loved ones now. (The declaration needs to be signed and witnessed or notarized. I am happy to do either. Just call.)

McCain Law Offices offers an array of services to help my fellow members of the Sandwich Generation. Please call the office at (219) 884-0696 or email us at Info@McCain.Law if you have any questions.

We will continue this Sandwich Generation Series soon and talk about what you can do to secure your children’s future should something happen to you before they are grown and gon’.