Old age isn’t for “sissies,” warned the legendary actress Betty Davis years ago. The financial downturn since 2007 has made those words truer than ever. And they have made  estate planning and elder law issues more and more important.

The economics of growing old are putting the squeeze on baby boomers on more than one front. It’s not only that their own investment accounts have lost value and that they may be trying to put kids through college. Aging parents from the Greatest Generation increasingly need help as well.

Forbes reported recently on one case in point. A 92-year-old woman named Violet still lives in her own home. Her husband has dementia has is in a care facility.

Violet’s combined income from a small pension and Social Security are not sufficient to both support herself and pay for her husband’s cost of care. Her husband’s income is also insufficient.

Violet and her husband have three children – all daughters. Could the daughters help their parents?

That is easier said than done. One daughter has lost her job and has not yet found another. The other two are working and doing pretty well. But they are uncertain about how to proceed in helping their mother in a way that is fair to everyone.

One step that can be useful in situations like this is a family meeting to get all of the issues and concerns on the table. It also makes sense to make contact with a Massachusetts family law attorney.

A lawyer can identify and act upon issues like changing the title to a home, creating a trust, or other tangible actions needed to finance a care-giving arrangement.

Source: “How Much Should You Help Your Aging Parents Financially?” Forbes, 9-8-11