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Today, we will look at the third of four real-life estate planning scenarios recently mentioned to me that will pose a great problem to families in which they unfold …

Anne is the eldest of seven adult siblings none of whom are particularly close to each other or their parents. There have been many rifts amongst them over the years regarding various issues. Anne feels that their family is largely dysfunctional in that they do not properly deal with their differences and conflicts such that healthy relationships can form. Thus, from her viewpoint, familial tension is always sitting just below the surface of their gatherings.

In spite of this context, Anne feels that all family members will expect her to care for her parents if they are eventually unable to do so for themselves. As she is the eldest, most organized and responsible, she sees this expectation looming. She would like to discuss the issue with her parents and siblings but no one wants to talk about it. Some of Anne’s friends are starting to care for their parents whose spouses have passed away. As her friends relay their experiences as caregivers, Anne wonders what will happen in her own family when one or both of her parents die or becomes ill. As Anne feels that her parents have not been good to her or her siblings in recent years, especially by not making efforts to be close to Anne’s or her siblings’ children (their grandchildren), Anne feels very little obligation to care for her parents. Thus the issue just hovers over them as her parents progress in age…

Claudia, on the other hand, is the youngest of five adult siblings and has been living with and caring for her mother for the past seven years since her father passed away. Her mother has various health issues which necessitate assistance in day-to-day living. As Claudia is in her 40’s unmarried and childless, her family just assumes that she will do whatever is necessary in caring for their mother. Claudia feels that her siblings are oblivious to the strain she is under in caring for their mother while having a full time job and doing her doctorate degree program. She spends much time driving her mother to medical and other appointments, doing banking, shopping for groceries and other supplies, gathering information and coordinating the services of professionals, etc. Claudia rarely goes out socially or travels and worries as to how her mother is faring on her own when she does venture out. Claudia would like to travel more and has also applied for a job which would involve a significant commute from the home she currently shares with her mother. It is obviously more feasible for Claudia to move closer to the job if it is offered to her…

Having a family discussion about parental care and the many, many issues that arise from it is critical for all parties involved. Seeking guidance from different professionals who eventually assist the family to put a concrete plan in place is the best way to deal with this aspect of family life. An estate and financial plan, which include powers of attorney for the parent(s), should be established as well as consideration of the various resources available for caregivers and their families. Whatever plan is decided upon should be adjustable to life events that unfold along the way.

If you wish to discuss the various issues, planning and resources that are possible to care for aging family members, please contact Andrea Kelly.


Andrea Kelly, Lawyer, has extensive experience in wills, trusts, powers of attorney and estate administration matters.  She provides clients with a high standard of timely professionalism and expertise, incorporating a very thorough fact finding process.  This is quite often enlightening for her clients and facilitates individually tailored services.  If you would like to know more, feel free to use the easy contact form or read Andrea’s bio.

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