Planning for the Future When You Become Guardian of Your GrandchildrenBecoming a grandparent can be one of the most joyous experiences in a person’s life.  The grandparent and grandchild bond is often created while sharing special occasions and cherished visits.  Ideally, the parents of the children would continue in that role.  However, in some cases, the grandparent-grandchild relationship changes due to the parents being unable or unwilling to provide care for their children. In many of these cases, it is the grandparents who step in and become the primary caregivers to their grandchildren.  For these “grandfamilies” planning for their future will be critical.

Wait Before Accessing Your Retirement Funds

Many people approaching their grandparent years have been saving for their retirement and planning for their medical care.  When these individuals unexpectedly become the guardians of their grandchildren their financial plans can change significantly.  Having to pay the expenses of their grandchildren as well as potentially plan for the costs of college can leave some grandparents in the position of having to borrow from their retirement plans just to make ends meet.  While it is understandable that grandparents would reach for these funds, it is important that they seek all alternative means available before turning to the source of their retirement to cover family expenses.

Consider Programs and Benefit Sources

A place these grandparents can begin is by identifying financial resources offered by federal and state public benefits programs.  Often these programs can assist with income, food, healthcare, home utilities, and other needs for those who are eligible. Additionally, in some cases, children are eligible for public benefits even when the grandparents do not have legal custody. In other instances, grandparent caregivers may qualify for government assistance through their own eligibility.

Social Security Support

One particular resource worth investigating is social security.  In some cases, such as when the parent or caregiver grandparent of a child has died, become disabled, or retired, the child may be eligible for benefits from social security.  These benefits can help pay the child’s costs and alleviate some of the family’s financial burdens. Another resource that may be available is Medicaid.  With the help of this program, eligible children can receive medical coverage without grandparents having to shoulder some of their medical expenses.

Community Resources

Area churches can also be a positive resource for those in need.  Granfamilies utilizing these services may fund nutritional, utility payment, and childcare support as well as programs aimed at providing emotional resources.  Another option to pursue is having a court order that the parents pay child support and provide medical coverage for the children.  Courts usually hold the perspective that if parents are financially able, then they should be paying for their children’s expenses and care.  Additionally, grandparent guardians may want to connect with the parents’ extended family in order to get financial, social, and emotional support in caring for the children.

While it is important to protect and provide for your grandchildren, it is equally important that you have the support you need in order to do so.  We understand the challenges assuming this role can bring and are here to help you examine your options and plan for the future. Please contact us online or by phone if we may be of assistance.

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