By: The American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys
Most grandparents act as caregivers for their grandchildren to one degree or another. For some, it may be watching the little ones while mom and dad enjoy a much-needed evening out, while for others caring for grandchildren may be a long-term arrangement.
According to data collected in the 2010 census, 4.9 million children under age eighteen live in grandparent-headed households. Most of these children live in multi-generational homes, including their grandparents plus at least one parent. However, in 20% of these grandparent-headed households, neither parent is present in the home and the grandparents are responsible for meeting the needs of the children.
If you are a grandparent who is caring for your young grandchildren, you’re experiencing the blessings and responsibilities of parenthood all over again. One of the pressing responsibilities that accompany your role as caregiver is to make sure that you have a plan for your grandchildren in the event that something happens to you. And because you’re older now than you were the first time around, planning becomes all the more important. What should your basic plan include?
- A Will that names a guardian and a successor guardian to care for your grandchildren in the event of your death.
- A Durable Financial Power of Attorney designating someone you trust to serve as agent to take over your financial affairs in case of your disability. Your Power of Attorney should include language specifically permitting your agent to conduct Medicaid planning on your behalf.
- A Durable Power of Attorney for Healthcare designating a trusted agent to make medical decisions on your behalf, should you be too ill or injured to make those decisions yourself.
- A Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (“HIPAA”) release form, authorizing the release of your medical records and information as well as your grandchildren’s medical records and information to the appropriate agent.
Just as you likely did when your own children were young – and especially if you have adopted your grandchildren – you may want to consider life insurance as a way to ensure that your grandchildren’s financial needs are met in the event that you pass away before they are old enough to provide for themselves.
If you have substantial assets, your estate plan will likely need to go beyond the basics in order to provide fully for your grandchildren’s futures. Our ever-changing federal estate and gift tax laws mean that a flexible estate plan is indispensible when it comes to ensuring that your grandchildren receive every penny of the inheritance you intend for them.
Taking your grandchildren into your home means you’ve accepted the task of providing them with the emotional support and parental guidance they might not otherwise receive. An effective estate plan is one step in ensuring that your grandchildren continue to enjoy as much stability as possible, come what may.