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The ‘sandwich generation’ was a term coined by a social worker in the early 80s to describe women in their 30s and 40s who were sandwiched between taking care of their children and caring for elderly parents.

A lot has changed since the 80s, and the term is now more commonly used to describe adults who are finding themselves becoming more and more responsible for their ageing parents and, at the same time, still having to look after or financially help their adult children. Debbie Dunlop considers some common issues the sandwich generation encounter when dealing with their own and their family’s personal affairs.

Property taxes

If you are thinking of purchasing a second property or taking out a mortgage to help your child buy a property, the title to the property will be in your name and you may be liable to pay an additional 4% tax on the purchase price. This is a new tax brought in by the Scottish Government called the Additional Dwelling Supplement (ADS) and applies in almost every circumstance when someone purchases a second property unless you are selling or replacing your main residence at the same time.

This could also catch out your own children or you if you or your parents are thinking of transferring property down to the next generation now. If you were to transfer your house to a child who does not yet own their own house, they would have to pay the 4% tax when they do buy their first main residence.

Powers of Attorney

As parents get older, they start to rely on their children for a number of things and whilst you may be able to do most things for them now, if a parent loses mental capacity without having a power of attorney in place, you may find that you are unable to access their bank account, pay bills or even make decisions about where mum or dad should live. Once a person has lost capacity they can no longer appoint someone as their Attorney. The only alternative is to raise a court action to have a guardian appointed which can end up costing thousands of pounds.

If decisions need to be made about the care your parent needs or where they should reside, and there is no power of attorney in place, you may find yourself unable to give instructions to health care professionals. Under legislation, the social work department has the power to make certain decisions when someone has lost capacity and there is no attorney.

It is worth asking your parents if they have one in place and if not, encouraging them to seek advice about putting one in place.

Wills review and Deeds of Variation

If you have a parent who has lost or is losing capacity, it is worth encouraging your other parent to review the terms of their own Will. The Will they put in place years ago leaving everything to their spouse may no longer be what they would like to happen to their estate.

Similarly, on the death of the first parent, it is worth carrying out a financial review of your surviving parent’s affairs. They may not need to inherit everything from their spouses’ estate and may want to redirect their inheritance.

The law, like society, has changed since the 80s and it is always worth reviewing what not only you have in place, but also your loved ones. Too many clients leave it until it is too late.

At The McKinstry Company, we have several specialists who can advise you and prepare the legal documents tailor-made to your personal circumstances, ensuring that your loved ones are not put through additional stress and anxiety at what is a very sad time.

Contact The McKinstry Company Estate Administration Solicitors in Ayrshire & Dumfries and Galloway

If you would like to discuss a review of your family’s affairs. please contact Debbie Dunlop on 01465 713 118 or email debbie@mckinstry.co.uk

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We’re still open for business.

Our team of solicitors and support staff are still here for you. However we have postponed any face to face meetings, restricting communications to telephone, Skype and email. You can contact the Ayr office on 01292 281711 and the Girvan office on 01465 713118