The sandwich gerenation

The sandwich generation is in a bit of a pickle. Have you protected their BLT legacy?

Debra Hale Zurich Protection Specialist

My partner recently asked me what I mean by sandwich generation. Is it because us middle aged folk were brought up on sandwiches? It made me laugh but he has a point. I have fond memories of tinned salmon sandwiches on a Saturday as there was nothing else in the pantry until my dad got paid on Thursday. It’s not about sandwich choice of course. The ‘sandwich generation’ refers to those stuck in the middle of their family line, typically looking after children and grandchildren whilst caring for parents and, in some cases, grandparents. As a fully-fledged member of this demographic cohort I find much to relate to. I am the jam sandwich – the one who picks up the childcare baton – and also the BLT of the family – the go-to for the ‘best lender terms’ (or ‘big life treats’). I’ve helped my children out many times with financial commitments such as weddings. My family is a modern extended family. Longevity plays a big part – my granddad died last year aged 102 and his main carers were my aunts, all aged 70 plus. My mother is a fairly young baby boomer, but as the eldest of four sisters I am starting to feel a shift in the care responsibility and it’s not boding well for my retirement fund. DOMESTIC CARE A YouGov poll in 2012 showed there are around 2.4 million sandwich carers in the UK. That number is on the rise as we live longer. There are other contributing factors, such as women putting careers first and having children later in life. Children are living at home for longer too.

HEALTH RISKS Nowadays, our younger family members are more likely to choose a Mexican bean wrap over a cheese and onion pasty; eating habits have changed for the better. Sadly, a member of the sandwich generation is probably not as healthy as their grandchildren, so the future care burden on both the family and on the state is growing. There is a lot of responsibility on sandwich generation so it’s crucial that health risks are considered when they seek financial advice. Consider also the needs of their extended family, protecting their assets and their end of life costs; there is much to be said for a plan B for many of these scenarios in the form of a protection underpin. Talking to them about longer-term solutions like a whole-of-life or convertible term policy and taking advantage of guaranteed insurability options can be prudent too. Zurich’s personal protection plan offers features that add meat to our sandwich bones – milestone benefit, carers benefit, fracture cover, comprehensive critical illness cover, child’s conversion option and online trusts to name a few. For many financial advisers, involving the family in their client’s financial planning is a wise decision. Building in other elements to the protection solution, such as trust planning or setting up a will, will more likely result in higher client retention. So whether you prefer an avocado and prawn wrap or a good old fashioned corned beef doorstep, give the sandwich generation a cheer for all they do and ultimately make sure that their BLT legacy is protected and preserved.

Almost a fifth of 45 to 60-year-olds are actively supporting their parents while their children are still living at home. This creates a huge reliance on this generation both emotionally and financially (women are most likely to be the main carers in these situations). There are many positives for this multi- generational layered approach to family life: looking after loved ones is rewarding and can strengthen the family unit. The downsides can be difficult to manage though. I can think of two friends that gave up work in their 50s to look after dementia suffering parents. LEGACY RELEASE The bank of mum and dad has evolved to a ‘club sandwich’ generation of retirees and research shows that families are being bankrolled up to £4,000 a year. A 2018 study found that retirees are supporting an average of three family members and expect to hand out £360 a month to children, grandchildren and parents. With so much of the wealth held by the over 50s it makes sense that we step in and help our families whilst we can. The current retired generation have made good with the property boom, ISA accumulation and many have admirable pension pots. Their children and grandchildren may not get the same opportunity so there is expectation that the sandwich crew will help out. Inheritance pots are likely to be depleted as more people in retirement release their legacies to their loved ones.

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