Inter-generational mediation is mediation for a group of people, usually from the same family group, that includes more than one generation. This group can include the Elders (parents), the Second spouse of the Elder, if any, their children, their children’s spouses, ex-spouses, significant others and sometimes, even their children (grandchildren of the Elder).
The above group of people may be called upon by the Elder for assistance in their retirement and disability. Although some of the people in the group above may be entitled to reimbursement for their time and efforts, not all of this group will be heirs of the Elder’s estate. Yet feel entitled to payment for their time and efforts that benefited the Elder. Other members of the group may be suspicious of the benefits conferred onto the caretaker child, for example, as more than they deserve, or that such payments are not appropriate as they take away from their anticipated inheritance. This can foster distrust and upon death, litigation.
A common scenario follows:
In today’s families, an adult child often comes to see an Attorney for planning for their ailing parent. There might have been a fall/broken hip or medical issue that has brought to the forefront the reality of a Nursing home admission in the near future. Or the need for extensive home care. All with the associated financial costs.
The days of having a spouse at home to take care of a parent or in-law are, unfortunately in the past. Now families are trying to work with each other, and their schedules, while caring for the Elder. Not every child (or their spouse or children) has the same list of priorities with their time, nor the same financial resources. And more often than not, the Elder’s resources are tied up in their family residence.
In order for families to figure out who will be providing what care to the Elder, may factors need to be addressed. They include: who may or may not be reimbursed for the time spent, expectations between the Elder’s children – the local child versus the out of state child, and the reality of the financial and emotional burden (for a lack of a better word) on the caretaker child which is often not acknowledged to the full extent by the out of state child as they do not see the day to day care or understand how expensive such care by a third party (home health aid, etc.) really is.
With the above scenario, by having the family members, their spouses and sometimes, even their children, along with the Elder, all at the same table, a safe, non adversarial, non threatening discussion can be facilitated by the Attorney Mediator to figure out who can do what, who should be compensated for what services, and to figure out what services are needed or wanted by the Elder. Mediation is the solution.
Sometimes, we provide Mediation in the above scenario where the Attorney-Mediator is a Neutral (does not represent anyone and is independent). Other times the Attorney-Mediator represents the Elder’s interests and facilitates a discussion among the parties, akin to Mediation, but represents the interests of the Elder while encouraging input from the other parties. Either method allows the family members to voice their opinions, include information that other children in the family may not be aware of, as well as ensuring a fair and equitable distribution of the Elder’s estate upon the death of the Elder. All the while meeting the needs and desires of the Elder during their lifetime.
Keep in mind that when long term nursing care is involved, funds can be depleted. This means that reimbursement for the care taker child must occur during the care to the Elder or there will be no funds at death to make payment. Without proper planning and cooperation of all parties concerned, this may not happen.
With Mediation the above issues can be resolved with the input of those family members that are providing care as well as those concerned about their future inheritance. All for less expensive, no litigation and the preservation of family relationships.