July 6, 2011

One in a Million; Parenting your Grandchildren

Nash&Bean-Curt-colorBy Curt Ford
Nash Nash Bean & Ford

Nancy’s grandchildren moved into her home when her daughter and son-in-law were both deployed overseas. In little under six weeks, she went from occasional babysitter to sole caretaker for the children. The move not only elevated Nancy from grandparent to caretaker but also sent her into a new
census data category: grandparent-headed households.

Currently, nearly 1 million children live in households with a grandparent as the sole guardian. Another 4 million children share their family home with their grandparents. While these numbers sound overwhelming, the only number that really mattered to Nancy was three: the number of grandchildren living in her home.

Nancy soon learned that the day-to-day activities of once-again parenting can start out overwhelming but can be managed with a little planning. She developed schedules for all the school sessions and activities, re-discovered classic children’s books and dusted off her coach’s cap to assist with youth league softball practice.

But, more important than these day-to-day activities, Nancy also learned she needed to meet with her estate attorney to ensure all her planning documents were up-to-date and in order. While these documents are important for any family, they play an even greater role for the security of children in a grandparent-headed household. With the increased age of these caregivers comes an increased risk of disease or disability.

What documents should be included in an estate plan, whether you are raising grandchildren or your own children?

• An updated will, naming successor guardians for grandparents serving as permanent guardians, or naming guardians in compliance with the parents’ wishes for grandparents serving as temporary guardians.
• A property power of attorney, naming a trusted friend or adviser to manage financial affairs in case of disability or death.
• A health-care power of attorney, naming an agent to make medical decisions in case of disability or incapacity
• A “HIPAA” authorization form, allowing the release of medical information – and grandchildren’s medical information if necessary – to a designated agent in case of disability.

If you serve as permanent guardian for your grandchildren or if you have substantial assets to pass on, you will also want to consider advanced estate planning documents to provide for your grandchildren’s future.

Being back in the forefront of parenting can be demanding, but well worth the challenge for the stability it can give to a child in a stressful situation. By ensuring your planning documents are in order, you can continue to offer a secure future for your grandchild, whatever it may hold.

Nash Nash Bean & Ford, LLP are members of the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys and the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. To receive a copy of our most recent newsletters, “Your Estate Matters” or for a free consultation on Estate or Long Term Care planning, call (309) 944-2188, (309) 762-9368 or 1-800-644-5345. You may also contact our firm by email at info@nashbeanford.com or visit our website at nashbeanford.com.

The firm devotes its practice primarily in the areas of estate, business and tax planning and related areas of the law as well as elder law and trust administration and probate. We offer guidance and advice to our clients in every area of estate planning.

This column is designed for general information purposes only and is not intended, nor should be construed or relied upon, as legal advice. Please consult your attorney if specific legal information is desired.

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