“When parents are absent or unable to raise their children, grandparents are often the ones who step in,” explains HelpGuide.orghttp://www.helpguide.org/articles/grandparenting/grandparents-as-parents.htm. While raising a second generation brings many rewards, it also comes with many challenges, requiring adjustments in both financial and estate planning.
In the United States, family assistance typically flows down the generations, and an important type of assistance involves caring for the next generation. “We found limited evidence that grandmothers caring for grandchildren in skipped-generation households are more likely to experience negative changes in health behavior, depression, and self-rated health,” researchers Soldo & Hill explain.
How common is it for families to be headed by one or both grandparents? The 2010 U.S. Census counted more than 2.7 million “grandfamilies.” Reasons for the arrangement included:
- Parent with an addiction
- Parent with emotional problems
- Child neglect
- Parent in jail
- Death of parent
- Domestic violence in the home
- Military deployment
“When you were making your decision to raise your grandchild, you probably didn’t think too much about the legal implications,” observes HelpGuide.org. “But if your grandchildren live with you for any length of time, it’s important that you understand the laws that affect grandparents raising grandchildren.”
- Do you have physical custody with a court order or an informal arrangement?
- Are you authorized to register the grandchildren at school?
- Can you make medical decisions for them?
- Can you add them to your own health insurance plan?
Consult with a tax professional who can help you claim the right credits, allowances, and deductions for the new dependents in your household, advises Kate Ashford of BBC.com.
“Find an attorney who specializes in family law,” she adds.
At Geyer & Associates, we know. In all estate planning, our focus must be on planning for our clients’ current needs and planning for potential disability and death. In “grandfamily” situations, delicate and complex adjustments must be made to grandparents’ estate plan to provide for “assistance flowing down the generations”!
– by Rebecca W. Geyer