Estate & Elder News

A Note from Christine

Hi ~Contact.FirstName~,

I hope this month’s newsletter finds you well and enjoying the start of summer with your family.

Here at the firm, we are gearing up to celebrate Sandwich Generation Month in July. This is an important observance that highlights the challenges faced by adults caring for their own kids and aging parents at the same time. Maybe you find yourself part of the “Sandwich Generation” today or know someone that is.

A large part of our practice is dedicated to working with this largely underserved demographic. Unfortunately, it’s the decline of an older parent’s health, or early signs of dementia or Alzheimer's that often brings families into our office for the first time. We know what an extremely difficult and distressing situation it can be for everyone involved, especially when planning hasn’t occurred before the crisis.

Please know that proper estate planning is one of the most important ways that “Sandwichers” and their parents can ease the burdens they face - both before and during a healthcare emergency or end-of-life situation.

It is critical for you to help the seniors in your life get their financial and health plans in place while they are still well and able to communicate. It starts with open and honest conversations, and we’ve given you some tips on how to have them in the feature article below.

So much is at stake if you don’t face these issues head on. For example, if your loved one rapidly deteriorates and a physician rules that they no longer have the capacity to make decisions on their own, your family may be forced to get a conservatorship, which is public, messy, and very expensive.

Or, your parents may need long-term care that neither private insurance nor Medicare pays for. Will mom and dad be able to cover the $5,000-$10,000 a month costs without their entire life savings go to a nursing home?

The good news is that if you plan ahead, you can avoid these crisis situations, stay in control, and pick up benefits and resources along the way to offset the costs of mom and dad’s care.

That’s exactly what we help adults and families of all ages and backgrounds do here at the firm. If you’d like to explore what a comprehensive estate plan would look like in your situation, or feel your parents or another loved one needs their current (and possibly outdated) plan reviewed, feel free to contact the office.

Have a great month,




Important Conversations to Have With Aging Parents for Sandwich Generation Month

“Does mom want to live in a nursing home?”

“What does dad feel contributes to, or takes away from his idea of 'quality of life'?”
“Do mom and dad have legal documentation in place that ensures someone can act financially on their behalf if they are unable to?”

These are just three of many questions local residents are encouraged to ask their parents and aging loved ones during Sandwich Generation Month, an observance that focuses on the legal and financial burdens facing adults who are caring for young kids and their older parents at the same time.

Without knowing the answers to such questions, families could be left battling over long-term care, struggling financially, and not truly honoring their parents’ wishes in the event of a future healthcare crisis.

Far too many families avoid talking about aging and long-term care until it’s too late.  Especially from a legal standpoint, if you don’t know your parents’ wishes or the documentation they have in place (or don’t), you could be left with a huge mess on your hands if they become sick or disabled.

This month, it’s advisable for adult children to have 5 specific conversations with their parents as soon as the opportunity presents itself:

1. Long-term care preferences - Do mom and dad want to live in a nursing home or would they prefer in-home care if the need presented itself?  If they prefer a facility, what amenities and activities are important to them at this point in their life?  If they want to live alone in their home, will that suit their personality or will loneliness and depression result?  These are questions that if discussed in advance can make the transition into an assisted living facility or a home-health care program much easier on everyone when the time comes.

2. Current Legal Documentation - It’s imperative that adult children find out what legal documentation their parents have in place before incapacity occurs.  This includes making sure their parents have a financial durable power of attorney, health care directive, and HIPAA documents so someone can easily step in to make financial or medical decisions on their behalf.  Otherwise the family will be forced to petition the court for control over their parents’ affairs if they passed the point of legal capacity.

3. Medical Preferences and Wishes - Adult children should find out what type and how much medical care their parents want as they age, or following a debilitating diagnosis such as Alzheimer’s and Dementia. Do they have specific wishes about life support or other end-of-life medical treatments?  Who do they want to make such decisions on their behalf?  The answers to these questions will help your parents to feel secure knowing their wishes will be carried out during an otherwise emotionally-charged time.

4. Current state of financial affairs - To ensure finances are properly managed, adult children should start asking tough questions about their parents’ financial affairs.  This includes finding out the location of any safety deposit boxes, bank accounts, investment or brokerage accounts, long-term care insurance, outstanding debts, or other assets unknown to the family.  Otherwise, necessary assets needed to cover long-term care or other expenses could go overlooked and unaccounted for. You should also ask your parents how they plan to pay for long-term care. Most expenses are not covered by Medicare or private insurance. Medi-Cal may be able to help, but you will likely need an attorney to help you create the right kind of trust or utilize other planning strategies in order to meet the income and asset thresholds and protect your assets from being “spent down” while qualifying for benefits.

5. Important contacts and information - While their memory is still sharp, adult children should work with aging parents to compile a list of important contacts and information that will be useful to the family. This includes documenting key doctors, professional advisors (e.g. accountant, attorney, financial advisor), and important passwords for online accounts.

While these conversations are certainly not easy to have, families can make the transition into a parent’s senior years easier by planning ahead.  Not to mention, mom or dad will appreciate your willingness to make sure their wishes are honored if and when incapacity, sickness or disability occurs.  



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About Christine Brown

Christine BrownChristine received her bachelor's degree from U.C. Santa Barbara and is a 1992 graduate of the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law. She is formerly a partner in the law firm of Popeney, Lebetsamer & Brown, LLP. In January 2002, she opened her own law firm which concentrates solely in the area of elder law. Her special emphasis is on Medi-Cal long-term care planning and the concerns of the elderly, while also applying her extensive experience in estate planning, trust administration, probate and conservatorships.

Christine is a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA), the South Bay Bar Probate and Estate Planning Section, as well as other community organizations concerned with the needs of older adults. As an active member of her community and State Bar, Christine volunteers regularly at various Superior Court Probate Departments in assisting the public with legal issues. She works regularly with California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform ("CANHR") and the Los Angeles Caregiver Resource Center.

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