Hope for living, loving and caring with no regrets!

Ep 22 Michele Howe

Episode 53

Estate Planning Is Not Just For When You Die

This week, Rayna Neises, your host, talks with Catherine Hodder Esq. Catherine is an attorney and author of the bestseller, “Estate Planning for the Sandwich Generation: How to Help Your Parents and Protect Your Kids”.  She began her law practice in banking, but after helping care for her dad and seeing how estate planning helped her family, she switched her focus when she went back into practice. She now lives in California where she writes articles to help members of the “Sandwich Generation”. Catherine shares the following advice:

  • Family members who do not reside in the same location can still play a vital role on the caregiving team.
  • ‘Sandwich Generation’ refers to people generally in their thirties and forties who have young children they are still supporting, and they also have aging parents.
  • Start with getting your own house in order by obtaining a Financial Power of Attorney and a Medical Power of Attorney.
  • Due to HIPPA, you also need Power of Attorney documents, both medical and financial, for children 18 and older.
  • Documenting your end-of-life decisions is a gift because you take the burden off your loved ones.
  • Once your house is in order, you can then focus on what your parents need to have in place.
  • Asking for your parent’s advice on what you should do or for their opinion on situations affecting other friends and relatives is can open the door for further discussions.
  • Five necessary conversations to have with your aging parent(s):
    • Financial
    • Medical
    • Living Arrangements When Aging
    • End of Life
    • Legacy
  • Do not have just one conversation, but instead make it ongoing.
  • Focus on getting the information that is important to your parent(s) without judging, negotiating, or influencing the situation.
  • Create a family binder of information to have everything in one place. Include legal documents, financial information, bank accounts, funeral arrangements, list of passwords, insurance policies, pension information, etc.

Transcript

*Transcript is an actual recount of the live conversation

Rayna Neises: 

Welcome to A Season of Caring Podcast where there’s hope for living, loving, and caring with no regrets. This is Rayna Neises, your host and today we have our special guests. Catherine Hodder. Catherine is an estate planning attorney, turned author. She enjoys working with families who would rather be doing anything else than estate planning. Her Florida law practice featured in the Palm Beach Post made house calls to help families with their estate planning needs. She now resides in California writing helpful articles for members of the sandwich generation. Her book Estate Panning for the Sandwich Generation: How to Help Your Parents and Protect Your Kids debuted as a number one, Amazon, bestseller. Thank you so much for joining us today, Catherine.

Catherine Hodder: 

Oh, thanks for having me Rayna.

Rayna Neises: 

I know you have a little bit of a caregiving story yourself. Tell us a little bit about your experience as a caregiver.

Catherine Hodder: 

Yes. I was a long distance caregiver to my father who had what became a ten-year battle with Alzheimer’s disease. I lived in Florida at the time and my father and mother lived in Delaware. And I had one sister who lived in DC about two hours away. So both she and I would help my mother with the caregiving. I would handle the legal and financial aspects and my sister would handle doctor’s appointments and things like that so it was day to day, even though I wasn’t there.

Rayna Neises: 

Definitely. And I appreciate so much, sometimes when we don’t live right there, we don’t see ourselves as being a part of the caregiving team, but you are such an important piece. And I know that your mom was so thankful to have your expertise and that willingness to step in and help with those legal and financial things. So, that’s great. Start off by just telling us a little bit about what is the sandwich generation.

Catherine Hodder: 

So the same with generation is a term referred to people generally in their thirties and forties who have young children or children, they’re still supporting and they also have aging parents. And even if they’re not physically caring for their parents, they’re more concerned about them as they age. So the metaphors that they’re sort of squished on two sides of caregiving. I became an estate planning lawyer after I took a break from my banking law practice. And it was actually through seeing how estate planning helped my father with his Alzheimer’s disease that really hit home of like, I’m a lawyer I know this stuff. I had no idea how helpful it was. So I was myself and the sandwich generation cause I had babies at the time and also trying to help my mother care for my father. You’re pulled in so many directions and there’s so many things that it really hit home. So when I went back into practice I focused mainly on estate planning to help other people, especially caregivers, to realize how certain documents can help them throughout the journey.

Rayna Neises: 

It is such an important peice and it’s so sad because many people don’t want to talk about it or they just feel overwhelmed by it. So they don’t even ask the questions and learn what they need to learn. So I’m excited to have you share with us a little bit. How exactly does estate planning help when you’re in that situation of the sandwich generation?

Catherine Hodder: 

Well, so, as you can imagine, first of all, you’re a critical piece, both for young children and also helping your parents. So God forbid, something happens to you. If you’re suddenly hospitalized who is going to step into your shoes to make sure certain things are done. My first piece of advice for somebody in this position is to get your own house in order. Meaning put your own estate planning in place. And a lot of people feel like estate planning is just for when you die. And that’s absolutely not the case. Most of these documents that you would complete with a lawyer are for exactly like a short-term incapacity or an emergency situation throughout your life. So for example, if you’re suddenly hospitalized, who’s going to pay your bills? So you would name a financial power of attorney to handle that. Who is going to make medical decisions? If you’re unable to, that would be a medical power of attorney. And especially with the increased HIPAA privacy laws, it is very difficult to get information. And another thing I like to point out for those that have children turning 18, you may still be paying their medical bills, but if you call a doctor, they will not talk to you unless you have a power of attorney for your child. Or if they go off to college and you call the nurse’s office or something, they may not talk to you, if you don’t have the right legal documents. So that’s something I reinforces of the medical decisions and the financial decisions, and those are done with power of attorney documents. Also very important is if you are suddenly dealing with a terminal illness or something that you can’t recover. What are your end of life decisions? Because it really is a gift if you can take that burden off of your loved ones, of wondering what you want to have done. So those are sort of the critical pieces that you should have. The will comes later for when you die, but really there’s more important documents. So the first thing I would tell people is first get your own house in order, and then you can focus on your parents and see what they have. And it is always better to come from a place of like, Hey, I just did my estate planning. These are the questions that were asked. This is what I had to think about. What are your plans? And, do you have everything in order? And let me help you with that or let’s walk through it together.

Rayna Neises: 

Such a good point. None of us want to think about our mortality. I know, I was 32 years old. I had a basic surgery, ACL reconstruction done. And through a blood clot. I was single, but I owned a business. I owned a house. I had a lot of things that needed to be taken care of if I had not survived the blood clot it was miraculous that I did. And thankfully I did, but I also, at that point went. Okay, this is no joke. I have responsibilities. I need to get my house in order. And so, that events prompted that. But I think so many times when we think about, like you said, estate planning, we’re immediately thinking of old age. We’re not thinking of right here and now. And so it’s really something all of us need to be considering. And I agree with you. I think that open conversation is a lot easier to open that door when you’re saying this is what I’ve been reading, this is what I’ve been learning. This is what I’m doing, because it’s a natural conversation that way.

Catherine Hodder: 

Yeah, it’s a natural conversation. I like to also tell people is that, when they’re talking to their parents, parents love to give advice. So instead of you saying like, Hey, you should do your will, or you should do this. And be like, Hey, you know, my husband and I were looking over our insurance and how much we would need, do you happen to have any insurance policies and how did you go about it? Did you do term, did you do permanent? And then it gets them giving their advice, but then it opens it up for further discussions.

Rayna Neises: 

We all like to be asked what we think. So it definitely helps. And like you said, as a parent, it’s just one more way of, of being able to help care for somebody that we love is to be able to give that advice. Even asking the question of who did you use, just being able to find there’s somebody that you can trust and that they have experience with. I love that such great advice. So how do we broach that with them beyond that question? What else do we need to talk to our parents about?

Catherine Hodder: 

In my book, I lay out sort of five different conversations to have with your parents. And one is the financial, which questions like- Hey, if something happened to you, who pays your bills? Who’s on listed on your accounts? Another conversation is the medical. If you’re suddenly hospitalized, who’s making decisions for you? What do you want your care to look like? There’s sort of the aging conversation of, Hey, as you get older, do you want to look at senior living options or do you prefer to age in place? And if so, how can we make it safe for you to do so? There’s the end of life conversation, difficult one to have, but I think what you say is, Hey, I need to know what you want, because I want to care for you the way you want to be cared for. So if you have specific wishes, let’s get that in writing. So there’s no confusion, there’s no drama. For example, my father had very specific feelings about end of life, meaning he didn’t want to be hooked up to machines. This was years before his diagnosis, but I said, that’s all well and good, but you know, mom feels differently about this stuff. So put it in writing because at the time I’m not going to argue with her. I will cave. I will tell you I will cave. And so he did and sure enough, a situation presented itself where, we didn’t know what to do and because he had that document it gave us a peace and it turned out, he lived a lot longer, but it was a time that we were sort of very stressed of what could we do. And we felt, Hey, we can honor his wishes. And that gave us a peace of mind.

Rayna Neises: 

So there’s different kinds of conversations obviously we don’t want to sit down and do that all at one time.

Catherine Hodder: 

No, so, within the book I have different ways you can approach it and I have sort of conversation starters. And then once you get a conversation, a list of questions to ask, and actually there’s another conversation, which is a lot more fun, which is the legacy conversation. And it’s about, Hey, let’s pull out all these pictures and write the names of people on the back and who they’re related to before that information gets lost. Capture the recipes and, you know, great family stories and preserve that because that’s something that, you want to pass down to generations. So it’s, it’s not all looking at worst case scenarios. It’s more like, Hey, we want to care for you the way you want to be cared for. We want to follow your instructions. We want to remember the things you want us to remember.

Rayna Neises: 

So important, and I’m sure you, with your experience with your dad, the same with me. You think you have forever to have those conversations and you don’t know the exact day or time when, especially with this disease, when those thoughts are going to be gone and gone forever losing my mom at such a young age, those were some of the things that I really wished that I had gotten was her recipes. I have her recipe box that I can follow some of those, but some are just in her head. And so some of my favorite things are gone. That was not something I asked early enough. So I love that really thinking about that and being intentional in all of those conversations. So important. I also think looking at the financial conversations and then some of them blend together, I guess, because I was thinking about, where their finances are, is important and who can pay the bills and those kinds of things. But at the same time where they want to age is impacted by what kind of financial resources they have as well. So just all of them are such important conversations that we really do need to have.

Catherine Hodder: 

Yes. And, I also say you don’t have one conversation, but it’s an ongoing conversation. I would suggest when you’re talking, take notes of things and say, okay, mom, last month you were talking about like, maybe we should look at some senior living. What sort of your budget, let’s take a look at your finances to see what you know, places we could look at. It’s things following up. And as you said, sort of blending one into another.

Rayna Neises: 

So many times living options when we’re healthier, we know that that’s coming out of pocket, but even when we’re not healthy most of the time it’s coming out of pocket, whenever we’re reaching those memory care units, those types of things are not something that’s covered by Medicare. And so really understanding where we’re going and what we’re getting into is so important to be able to help in the conversation and really have realistic expectations. So many times because we don’t know, we have assumptions that aren’t right.

Catherine Hodder: 

Yes. No, that’s absolutely true.

Rayna Neises: 

As we’re looking at having those difficult conversations, where do we start? Is there a place that you think is the best place to start?

Catherine Hodder: 

Well, getting your own house in order so you understand what. What the concerns are, what questions to ask. And, may know a little bit about your family situation, but it helps you understand what more things you need to learn about. And in talking with your parents it can get difficult because they might either feel reluctant to talk to it either because they made mistakes or they’re of a generation of you never talk about money or they may feel threatened of like, Oh, are you trying to find out how much I have? And so it’s really just first thing is, is getting your house in order and then just having different conversations with them about the decisions you’ve made, and what they would like. And sometimes you can also position it of they have experiences like, okay, when your mother fell and broke her hip. She was in assisted living if something like that happened to you, is that something, you know, cause sometimes people may not know what they want, but they know what they don’t want. So if you can kind of frame it in that.

Rayna Neises: 

I think that’s a great point. And again, launching off of those actual real life experiences that you’ve experienced that they’ve experienced. It just makes it a lot easier to bring them up and to maybe even have the conversation so that it’s not so much like grilling or on the spot kind of thing.

Catherine Hodder: 

Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. And, and it’s also not a time to talk about like, well, who’s going to get the c hina or Hey, I always felt you treated my sister better than me. It’s not about that. Your focus is just getting information because it’ll help you and help them.

Rayna Neises: 

And that’s a good point too, it’s the information. It’s not, you don’t get to judge it. You don’t get to influence it. It’s not you negotiating the situation. It’s really just, what’s their hearts? What’s important to them? And how can you make that happen once they’re not able to.

Catherine Hodder: 

Yes, absolutely.

Rayna Neises: 

So once we’ve had these great conversations and we’ve gotten our house in order and they’ve gone to their attorney and they have their house in order, and they’ve shared that information with everybody, they need to share. There’s so many steps involved in this, then -where do we go from there? How do we put this in a place that other people know where it is and keep track of it?

Catherine Hodder: 

Well, what I had my practice in Florida, after I do the legal documents for my clients, I would present them with what I called it nine one one binder, a family information binder. And it was one place where they’d have their legal documents that have their Medical Power of Attorney that have their Financial Power of Attorney that have places that they could put information about. Bank accounts about, do they have a safety deposit box? Where is it? Who has the key? Everything from funeral arrangements to here is my list of passwords. If you need to get into certain things. And it’s really important to kind of have one place for this. So, like I said, as a nine one one, if your loved one goes to the hospital and suddenly you say, Oh, wow, taxes are due. How do I go about paying them? It’s one place you to go, or you go to the hospital and they say, well, where’s your Power of Attorney that I can talk to you. It’s the one place where you say here, I have the permission to get information on my loved one. So that’s something that Is is I think very important to put together. And it’s also a good thing to kind of maybe make one for yourself, but also talk to your parents of like, Hey, I organized all my information to one place. Let’s organize yours. And that’s also another way to say, Hey, we don’t have any information about what you’d want regarding any funeral. Wishes. Do you want to put anything down or do you happen to have plots or you know, certain instructions you want, so it kind of like you could also start conversations and get information that way. And on my website, www.Hodderink.com, H O D D E R I N K.com. I have a forms to make your own binder.

Rayna Neises: 

Great. It was a wonderful resource. So again, listeners visit Catherine’s website at www.Hodderink.com and get those forms to be able to put together your own notebook and then be able to pass those off to your parents and ask them to do that as well. It’s so helpful to get it all in one place. I know when we lost my father-in-law, there were life insurance policies that popped up a year later, or two years later, some things that we’re just not aware of. So really making sure that it’s all in one place can make a big difference.

Catherine Hodder: 

Well, you bring up a very, very important point that insurance policies is one place that. Often gets missed where, your loved one might have, you know, a small policy from quirk and then something from another place. Most people don’t know that if a loved one dies, an insurance company is not obligated to notify the beneficiaries. So if you don’t know that you’re named in the policy and your loved one dies, you won’t collect. So that’s also important to talk to parents about, Hey, let’s go over all the jobs you’ve had and, was there any benefits. Or other things like military benefits, pension benefits, because as they get older there are other things that you might be able to tap into that can help them, you don’t want those benefits to get lost and things that they worked very hard for.

Rayna Neises: 

It’s such a good point. And having that again, ongoing conversation, it really is just part of the relationship that needs to be happening and the better relationship you have the less question, there is a motives of having these conversations or concerns for either person about, what you’re, what you know, and what you don’t know. It’s not a comfortable conversation for most of us to have to disclose those financial things or to even talk about funerals or things like that. But the truth is it is part of life. And we’re going to be happier knowing that and like you said, being able to have that purpose and, just not questioning the decisions that you have to make at the end of life, if you know what they wanted.

Catherine Hodder: 

Yes, absolutely.

Rayna Neises: 

Well, thank you so much for taking the time to talk about Estate Planning and how that really can be a benefit to us no matter what season of life we’re in. Again, listeners, make sure you check out Catherine’s book. Estate Planning for the Sandwich Generation: How to Help Your Parents and Protect Your Kids it’s available on Amazon. And we will have a link on the show notes page. So we’d love to have you check that out and just get ahold of those great resources. Thanks again, Catherine, for being a guest today.

Catherine Hodder: 

Thank you so much. It was a great conversation.

Rayna Neises: 

Just to remind you A Season of Caring Podcast is created for the encouragement of family caregivers. If you have medical, financial, or legal questions, please contact your local professionals and take heart in your season of caring.

*Transcript is an actual recount of the live conversation

Catherine Hodder, Esq.

Catherine Hodder, Esq.

Caregiver, Elder Health Policy and Caregiver Advocate

Catherine Hodder, Esq. is an estate planning attorney turned author. She enjoys working with families who would rather be doing anything else than estate planning. Her Florida law practice, featured in the Palm Beach Post, made “house calls” to help families with their estate planning needs.

She now resides in California, writing helpful articles for members of the “Sandwich Generation.” Her book, “Estate Planning for the Sandwich Generation: How to Help Your Parents and Protect Your Kids” debuted as a #1 Amazon bestseller.

www.HodderInk.com

Your turn, share your thoughts . . .

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

To help out the show:

  • Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one.
  • Subscribe on iTunes or subscribe to our list below now and never miss an episode.

Meet Your Host

Rayna Neises, ACC

Your Host

Author of No Regrets: Hope for Your Caregiving Season, ICF Certified Coach, Podcast Host & Speaker, offering encouragement, support, and resources to those who are in a Season of Caring for Aging Parents.

Her passion is for those caring and their parents, that they might be seen, not forgotten & cared for, not neglected

New Episode Weekly |  Live Every Thursday @ 9am

Would you like to be a Guest?  |  Email Rayna

Stay Connected to Get The Latest Podcast Alerts

Rayna Neises: A Season of Caring

This site makes use of cookies which may contain tracking information about visitors. By continuing to browse this site you agree to our use of cookies.

4 Things you need to know as you begin your season of caring

You got it!