The number of children living with a grandparent continues to rise. A new Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data? shows that 2.9 million children – a 6% increase from 2007 to 2008 – now live with a grandparent. About 41% of those children are also being raised primarily by that grandparent.
If a parent retains custody, then grandparents who care for grandchildren may not have the right to make medical, educational or financial decisions on behalf of the children for which they are caring. Further, without a valid will, grandchildren are not entitled to receive a grandparent’s property upon death.
So, grandparents acting as the primary caretaker for a grandchild must be sure to protect that child by:
- Executing a trust so that the grandparents’ assets are properly left to the minor child
- Naming a trustee to handle the property on behalf of the child after the grandparents are gone
- Creating a valid will to be sure all of their property is included in the trust
- Having the legal custodian execute a Health Care Directive so that the grandparent can make medical decisions for the minor child
If you are caring for a child without having legal custody, please contact an attorney to protect both your rights and the rights of that child.