The number of multigenerational households has been increasing over the past several years. A multigenerational household is one in which two or more generations of adults live under the same roof. In the U.S. in 2016 approximately 20% of Americans were in multigenerational households. This is a sharp increase over a low of 11% in 1980 and is close to the 21% of 1950. The number is still on the rise now. Multigenerational living can also include extended family. In fact, homes are now being built specifically for multigenerational households.
Multigenerational living has both advantages and disadvantages. There is typically a sizeable cost saving by combining household expenses and potentially minimizing childcare expenses. There can be benefits that go way beyond the financial. Wonderful bonds can be nurtured between grandchildren and grandparents, often taking stress off the parents. Chores can be shared. Elderly parents can be taken care of at home which is often where they would rather be.
A downside is that one's privacy and personal space may be limited. Combining different peoples' lifestyles can be restrictive. There can be other sources of stress and misunderstandings. There are actions you can take before moving to make living together work as well as possible and to minimize potential problems.
Make note of all concerns and discuss them before moving in. How will privacy for all be maintained? How will chores and expenses be divided? Does babysitting come into the plan and if so what are the parameters? What will you do if the arrangement doesn't work? Discuss these issues and all others.
Discuss the plans with the whole family. This includes the extended family, not just those who will be living together. Make sure they understand the rationale to avoid misunderstandings.
Discuss what will happen if elderly parents need caregiving. Will it be at home? Who will give it? Will someone be hired or will the family provide it even if it means giving up a job? Plans are bound to change, but it is important to understand the mindset and what you are working towards.
Write down your agreements and plans. It will be a good reminder in the future. It will clarify whether you are viewing the arrangement the same or not. It will bring up subjects that still need discussing. View it as a working document that can be changed with time.
Multigenerational living can be a great answer to your living situation and family needs. Think it through and talk it through to determine if it will work well for you and your family. Reach out to your professional advisors as needed. You can talk to your financial advisor and your attorney to plan financial arrangements, estate plans, and other agreements.
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