Are You a Member of the Sandwich Generation?
If you’re currently taking care of your children and elderly parents, count yourself among those in the “Sandwich Generation.” Although it may be personally gratifying to help your parents, it can be a financial burden and affect your own estate plan. Here are some critical steps to take to better manage the situation.
Identify key contacts
Just like you’ve done for yourself, compile the names and addresses of professionals important to your parents’ finances and medical conditions. These may include stockbrokers, financial advisors, attorneys, CPAs, insurance agents and physicians.
List and value their assets
If you’re going to be able to manage the financial affairs of your parents, having knowledge of their assets is vital. Keep a list of their investment holdings, IRA and retirement plan accounts, and life insurance policies, including current balances and account numbers. Be sure to add in projections for Social Security benefits.
Open the lines of communication
Before going any further, have a frank and honest discussion with your elderly relatives, as well as other family members who may be involved, such as your siblings. Make sure you understand your parents’ wishes and explain the objectives you hope to accomplish. Understandably, they may be hesitant or too proud to accept your help initially.
Execute the proper documents
Assuming you can agree on how to move forward, develop a plan incorporating several legal documents. If your parents have already created one or more of these documents, they may need to be revised or coordinated with new ones. Some elements commonly included in an estate plan are:
Wills. Your parents’ wills control the disposition of their possessions, such as cars, and tie up other loose ends. (Of course, jointly owned property with rights of survivorship automatically pass to the survivor.) Notably, a will also establishes the executor of your parents’ estates. If you’re the one providing financial assistance, you may be the optimal choice.
Living trusts. A living trust can supplement a will by providing for the disposition of selected assets. Unlike a will, a living trust doesn’t have to go through probate, so this might save time and money, while avoiding public disclosure.
Powers of attorney for health and finances. These documents authorize someone to legally act on behalf of another person. With a durable power of attorney, the most common version, the authorization continues after the person is disabled. This enables you to better handle your parents’ affairs.
Living wills or advance medical directives. These documents provide guidance for end-of-life decisions. Make sure that your parents’ physicians have copies, so they can act according to their wishes.
Beneficiary designations. Undoubtedly, your parents have completed beneficiary designations for retirement plans, IRAs and life insurance policies. These designations supersede references in a will, so it’s important to keep them up to date.
Spread the wealth
If you decide the best approach for helping your parents is to give them monetary gifts, it’s relatively easy to avoid gift tax liability. Under the annual gift tax exclusion, you can give each recipient up to $15,000 (for 2018) without paying any gift tax. Plus, payments to medical providers aren’t considered gifts, so you may make such payments on your parents’ behalf without using any of your annual exclusion or lifetime exemption amount.
Mind your needs
If you’re part of the Sandwich Generation, you already have a lot on your plate. But don’t overlook your own financial needs. Contact us to discuss the matter further.
Fourth Quarter Tax Calendar
October 15 — Personal federal income tax returns that received an automatic six-month extension must be filed today and any tax, interest and penalties due must be paid.
The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) Report 114, “Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts” (FBAR), must be filed by today, if not filed already, for offshore bank account reporting. (This report received an automatic extension to today if not filed by the original due date of April 17.)
If a six-month extension was obtained, calendar-year C corporations should file their 2017 Form 1120 by this date.
If the monthly deposit rule applies, employers must deposit the tax for payments in September for Social Security, Medicare, withheld income tax and nonpayroll withholding.
October 31 — The third quarter Form 941 (“Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Return”) is due today and any undeposited tax must be deposited. (If your tax liability is less than $2,500, you can pay it in full with a timely filed return.) If you deposited the tax for the quarter in full and on time, you have until November 13 to file the return.
If you have employees, a federal unemployment tax (FUTA) deposit is due if the FUTA liability through September exceeds $500.
November 15 — If the monthly deposit rule applies, employers must deposit the tax for payments in October for Social Security, Medicare, withheld income tax, and nonpayroll withholding.
December 17 — Calendar-year corporations must deposit the fourth installment of estimated income tax for 2018.
If the monthly deposit rule applies, employers must deposit the tax for payments in November for Social Security, Medicare, withheld income tax, and nonpayroll withholding.