In recent years, there has been a noticeable increase in the number of grandparents taking on the profound responsibility of raising their grandchildren. This unique familial dynamic, often emerging out of unforeseen circumstances such as parental incapacity or absence, brings about a distinct set of challenges that demand careful consideration.
If you are in this situation, you must address the critical aspect of your estate plans in addition to ensuring the love, support, and stability that your grandchildren need to grow up successfully. It’s crucial that you recognize the pivotal role that a comprehensive estate plan plays in safeguarding the future well-being of both yourself and your grandchildren.
From legal considerations to financial security, healthcare, education, and beyond, this blog aims to highlight the importance of a tailored estate plan in ensuring a stable and secure foundation for your special family.
Understanding The Legal Landscape For Grandparents In Ohio
First, it’s necessary to understand that not all grandparents raising their grandchildren are in the same legal boat. There are 3 ways that a grandparent can come to be the caregiver of their grandchild in Ohio: adoption, guardianship, or custody.
If a grandparent has adopted their grandchild, they are legally the child’s parent in the eyes of the law. The rights of the child’s birth parents are terminated and they are not able to go to court later to reclaim those rights.
Guardianship is similar to adoption in the aspect that the grandparent is viewed as the child’s parent by the court, but different in the aspect that the child’s biological parents typically retain their rights, and are permitted to go back to the court and ask for the guardianship to be ended later on.
When a grandparent is granted legal custody of their grandchild, it is similar to that of a guardianship, but may still leave some of the biological parents’ rights and responsibilities to their child intact.
Each of these scenarios may have an impact on the way your estate plans should be crafted, so it’s important to share this information with your attorney as they navigate you through the process and paperwork.
Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Face A Number Of Unexpected Challenges
When a grandparent has to step in to raise their grandchild, whether for a limited amount of time or extended, it is often due to some unforeseen circumstance like the death of the child’s parent(s), the unwillingness of the parent to care for their child, or the unfitness of the parent to care for the child. These situations can be emotionally, financially, and logistically complicated for the heroic grandparents who step up for their grandchildren. They may face:
- Health concerns from coping with the added stress of raising children later in life
- Financial strain from a fixed income combined with the educational, medical, and extracurricular needs of their grandchildren
- Legal complexities like custody and guardianship, as well as disputes with the child’s biological parents over rights and responsibilities
- Emotional and psychological stress from balancing the role of of a caregiver while maintaining a supportive, loving relationship with their grandchildren – especially if they’ve experienced trauma or loss
- Changes in lifestyles, like altered daily routines and reduced personal time
- Social isolation from peers who may not be in a similar situation or aren’t able to relate
- Educational challenges, especially if their grandchild has learning or behavioral challenges
- A generational gap that is difficult to bridge
- And more.
Because of all these factors, grandparents who are raising their grandchildren should be especially concerned for the long-term well-being of their grandchildren, which is why future planning is such a critical step to take.
How A Comprehensive Estate Plan Ensures Your Grandchildren Will Be Taken Care Of If Something Happens To You
If you become incapacitated or pass away, there are several tools that you should include in your estate plan to help keep the lives of your grandchildren as stable as possible. First, you’ll need to guarantee that your will names a guardian and successor guardian to care for your grandchildren in the event that one of those events happens.
You’ll also want to include a durable financial power of attorney document, which allows you to name a trusted individual to take over your financial affairs if you become unable to. They can pay bills and make purchases that will support your grandchildren while you are incapacitated. Additionally, a durable power of attorney for healthcare allows you to name a trusted individual (can be the same person as your financial POA or different) who can make medical decisions on your behalf if you are not able to speak for yourself.
Including a trust slated for your grandchildren in your estate plan is the best way to provide for them financially after you’ve passed, and protect them from financial abuses when you’re not here to do so. A skilled estate planning attorney can help you identify your goals in creating the trust, answer any questions, and guide you through each step of the trust creation process. It is also advisable to update beneficiaries on your accounts and change beneficiaries on life insurance policies. These legal strategies will make the transfer of your assets to your grandchildren faster and easier following your passing, fostering the long-term financial stability of the grandchildren you are raising.
You Know Better Than Anyone That Life Rarely Goes As Expected. The Time To Plan Is Now!
We understand that you’ve been thrown a curveball; you likely never imagined having to start the parenting process all over again in your Golden Years. Nevertheless, you stepped up and made an enormous sacrifice for your grandchildren, and now it’s time to make sure that they will be taken care of, no matter what. Even if you already had an estate plan created for you in the past, you must update it to reflect the changes that have occurred in your life.
Our lead attorney, Stephanie Dailey, is dedicated to helping clients gain peace of mind for the future. Those we’ve previously served can attest to her efficiency, professionalism, and attentiveness. You can trust Dailey Law Offices to help you protect what matters most! Call today to schedule your free initial consultation and learn more about the advantages of working with our team.