When You Become An Empty Nester

This term is used to describe people who have raised children who have since left to pursue college or a career—and it is one that we have personally and professionally experienced. Our motivation behind talking about empty nesters is very much tied to estate planning and elder law because of what they are experiencing during this stage of their lives. For many of these people, their attention is turning away from their children and toward their aging parents. A significant portion of the clients we meet are in this precise stage. 


Tips for Empty Nesters

Think back to when you first became a parent (long before you became an empty nester). Babies take up most of their attention and time. During that stage, it is essential to carve out time to spend with your spouse, to invest in your marriage, and to occasionally find time to step away—even if it is doing something as simple as taking your dog on a walk. Whether you’re adjusting to life without your children or immersed in taking care of your parents, continue to set aside time for your marriage and yourself. 


Another valuable tip we can offer is to set your expectations for your aging parents and spouse. Don’t assume your spouse understands and accepts how much time you may be devoted to your elderly parents. This same line of thought extends to your siblings too. It’s common for one child to feel they are responsible for their parents. For example, they are the only ones who still live close by, so they assume the role by default. This person can set expectations with their siblings to ensure they are not in this by themselves. Additionally, it avoids tensions and in-family fighting. 


Legal Considerations for Caring for Your Aging Parents

We receive calls from family members trying to support a set of aging parents. They will ask us to call someone and instruct them to do something. As elder law attorneys, we can’t solve the issues with the family dynamic. However, we can provide you with a legal blueprint to follow. Additionally, we cannot always talk to everyone in the family because of an obligation to our client and their requests. 


Here are three legal things you need to have to care for your aging parents. This is precisely what we focus on with our clients. They center around the most significant event of your life: incapacity. If you have these three things, you are prepared to care for yourself or others. 


  1. Access to key documents, information, and accounts. (Though we have discussed this before, it is critical to point out that you can grant access without giving up ownership.)
  2. If you have kept ownership of your assets, you are prepared for incapacity. For instance, imagine you create an irrevocable trust. Because you can’t reverse it, you no longer own the assets and cannot access them
  3. Focus on the type of assets you own. Again, we have discussed this before, but certain assets are protected if you have to go into a nursing home—and your home is one of them. Why is this important? You don’t have to give up ownership of it to ensure it is protected!


Get in Touch with J. Kevin Tharpe, P.C.

Anyone is susceptible to incapacitation, and everyone needs to have a plan to protect themselves and their assets. Some people may discover how important it is when they see their parents go through it without having done any prior planning. Additionally, there are several ways that you can accomplish this, and they are different in terms of effectiveness. Take a step forward and begin planning today for yourself or your parents. Contact J. Kevin Tharpe, P.C., to schedule your consultation.

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Kevin Tharpe

With 25 years of experience, Kevin understands how estate planning, special needs planning, and government benefits programs work together. This is a crucial element of a thorough plan. He explains your eligibility for benefits programs and ensures that you do not make costly mistakes that may disqualify you or deplete your assets.

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