A recent study, conducted by Amy Ziettlow, a Lutheran minister, and Naomi Cahn, a law professor at George Washington University, reveals that current approaches to elder care and inheritance are outdated. The current model presumes a lifelong connection between parents and children, with shared values and beliefs among family members. However, the modern family structure has become much more complex.
Today, 40 percent of Americans consider step-relatives to be members of their families, and the divorce rate for for adults over the age of 50 has roughly doubled in the past 25 years. Single parent families, and families with re-married parents, are far more complicated, and require more support from medical, legal, and religious professionals than traditional families do.
The authors interviewed individuals whose mother, father, stepparent, or ex-stepparent had died. The survivors’ stories illustrate the profound ways that the care-giving and inheritance process has changed.
The researchers suggested solutions that focus on awareness and preparation, such as providing more support for the individual planning for incapacity and/or death. If you have a loved one who is facing incapacity or end-of-life decisions, encourage him or her to begin planning as soon as possible.
Reference: Amy Ziettlow & Naomi Cahn, Family Scholars Find Modern Families Need Extra Help When a Loved One Dies, Homeward Bound: Modern Families, Elder Care and Loss, April 10, 2017.