Thursday, July 28, 2011

Second Marriages, Blended Families, and the Elderly

Maybe the second marriage occurred when your parent was younger, maybe as a result of a divorce, and you and your step-brothers/sisters have grown up together. Maybe the second marriage occurred later in life when your mother or father was widowed and you and your step-brothers/sisters have gotten to know each other as adults.

It's wonderful when the various parts of blended families get along and enjoy each other, regardless of what stage of life the blending occurred. Every family works out the relationships based on their individual circumstances.

When an elderly parent begins to need more assistance, these 'step' relationships and responsibilities can become difficult. The difficulties become compounded when there are financial issues and the different parts of the family have different financial situations.

Some simple different scenarios:

Henry and Pam were both widows with grown children when they met in their 60's. After dating for a few years, they were married. Their children lived in various parts of the country and only saw each other on occasion. Now well into their 80's, they were experiencing enough health issues that some decisions needed to be made. Their own children had Powers of Attorney and Healthcare Powers of Attorney meaning decisions were being made separately. These adult children really didn't know each other and didn't want to make joint decisions. Adding to the difficulty was the fact that there was a considerable difference in finances between both Henry and Pam as well as their various children.

It was also a second marriage for Irving and Lois. Irving's son never liked Lois. As Irving's health began to deteriorate, the son wanted to make sure that Lois didn't use up too much of Irving's money. The son was able to move money from Irving's personal investment account into his own account. Irving and Lois had always pooled their income to live on. The reduction in income resulting from the son shifting capital was causing Lois to not be able to afford to hire aides to help care for Irving.

The above two examples illustrate a couple of potential types of problems. Even with the best of blended family relationships, there will be issues. If you want to move your aging parent to be geographically closer to you, are you going to separate them or move them together? If there is a significant difference in financial abilities, are you willing to help pay for the step-parent's care?

Good planning and communication before a crisis arises is the key. Not every possible scenario can be planned for but while everyone's physical and cognitive health is good, the conversations must be had.


phd said...

I really enjoyed reading your articles. My parents are getting older and the financial decisions you mentioned need to be spoken about almost immediately before they need outside care.

Thank you for all of your information. You information is always helpful.

Please continue to blog!!!


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