Sandwich generation: Estate planning for you and your parents

Similar to how middle managers find themselves stuck between lower level employees and senior management, the so-called “sandwich generation” finds itself between aging parents and young families of their own.
Sandwich Generation: Estate Planning for You and Your Parents

This dual responsibility brings forth a set of challenges that can strain families and create issues without proper planning. If you find yourself as part of that generation, what can you do to help your parents plan for their own aging, while also making sure to take care of your own estate?

Understanding the Sandwich Generation Challenge

The term “sandwich generation” describes those who have aging parents that need their care and support as well as their own children, who still may still require care or guidance. It can be a challenging position for a number of reasons:

First, there are financial issues, such as balancing the financial needs of children, parents, and personal aspirations. This can include funding education for children or addressing healthcare costs for aging parents. Legal issues can also crop up, like the obligations and responsibilities associated with caring for aging parents or potential conflicts in estate planning.

Facing these demands can also create significant emotional strain. It can be difficult to cope with seeing parents age and lose capacity. Arranging for care or otherwise ensuring that your parents are taken care of can be a significant burden. If you are also nurturing a growing family, the dual demands can be difficult to fit into your life, particularly if you have a career and other demands on your time. Balancing the expectations and needs of both children and parents can cause even more emotional fatigue for someone who is also responsible for their own life.

Estate Planning Strategies for the Sandwich Generation

As difficult as it may be to find yourself in the sandwich generation, there are things you can do to try to better the situation.

One strategy is to make sure that yourself, as well as your parents and children, are communicating openly. It will be easier for you and your parents to make clear financial decisions if they and you are clear about goals, expectations, and future plans. This applies for younger children as well, particularly if they are coming up on big life choices, such as going to college or university, getting married or having children of their own. Communication and transparency can help mitigate potential conflicts and ensure everyone is on the same page. From there, you can start making plans for what happens after someone passes, and what to do in the event of incapacity. 

After you or your parents have confirmed plans for your respective estates, it still needs to be put into effect. Consulting with a legal professional to prepare a detailed estate plan will help make sure that your or your parent’s plan is documented appropriately and that potential risks you haven’t thought of are accounted for. 

Part of any estate plan should include incapacity planning, such as a power of attorney or representation agreement. However, if your parents are declining, it can also be important to review long-term care options for them. Is it possible for them to live with you? If a care facility is more realistic, maybe visiting them and picking one in case it’s needed would be appropriate? Depending on your and your parents finances, it can also be prudent to look at potential government programs and what assistance might be available down the road. 

Estate Planning Factors to Consider

In formulating your estate plan, there are several other factors that are important to consider:


In your situation, does it make sense to utilize a trust to manage assets and ensure the financial well-being of both generations? (Please note that as of December 31, 2023, the Canadian Revenue Agency has implemented new reporting requirements for all trusts that may make it more onerous and less advantageous to use these instruments.)

Insurance Coverage

Life insurance, health insurance, and long-term care insurance can all be effective ways of addressing risk and sometimes saving money. When speaking about these issues, it can be a good idea to know what insurance your parents have, but also plan for your own insurance, possibly even just to ensure your own mortgage is paid off so that your children will have a home if something happens to you.

Healthcare Planning

There are a number of healthcare resources and support available in British Columbia. If you can familiarize yourself with these, you can help your parents access services like home care or the Office of the Seniors Advocate, if necessary. 

Power of Attorney and Representation Agreements

What do you or your parents do if either of you can’t make your own decisions anymore? A power of attorney and representation agreement allow you to defer decision-making if you become incapacitated and can make it clear who is the decision-maker for aging parents.


For the sandwich generation, balancing the needs of aging parents and the aspirations of their own families requires thoughtful planning and a compassionate approach. Talking about it and then creating a plan together can be vital to avoid future conflict. Sometimes conflict is unavoidable, but it can be far better to deal with it when people are alive and able to discuss it than leaving it for a court battle after the fact. One of the downsides of the ‘great wealth transfer’ and the rise in real estate values is a greater incentive to dispute wills or an intestate situation. Taking the time to discuss matters and then plan with a legal professional can be your best bet to avoid unpleasantness down the road and ensure your family retains relative harmony. 

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Disclaimer: This blog post is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as financial or legal advice. Consult with qualified professionals to create a personalized estate plan suitable for your specific circumstances.

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