ElderLaw News

ElderLaw News is a weekly e-newsletter that brings you reports of legal developments and other trends of vital interest to seniors and their advocates. This newsletter is brought to you by The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C., William S. Fralin, Esq., President.

Intergenerational Help Is New Trend

A New York Times article addresses the growing trend of seniors playing a greater role in their children and grandchildren's lives than in previous years. Grandparents raising grandchildren whose parents are lost to drugs, mental illness, or prison is not as newsworthy as it once was. What is surprising, however, is the number of grandparents who play important roles in their grandchildren’s lives, even when the parents are present and functioning. Some pay for tuition, down payments on homes, summer camps, family vacations and braces. Many care for the grandchildren one or more days a week while the parents work.

Timothy M. Smeedling, a professor of public policy at Syracuse University, notes that, "Thirty, 40 years ago, the money went up; you helped your grandparents, you bought them this or that, they might have moved in with you. But now, all the money comes down. Most elderly people today are better off than they thought they would be, with the booming stock market of the 1990's, the rising value of homes and the changes in Social Security. Meanwhile, their kids are worse off than they thought they would be. So grandparents help out." Many families, however, do not want to discuss the growing influence of grandparents within the family, perhaps because our culture values independence. One factor in the growing influence of grandparents is their very presence in their grandchildren's lives. An analysis by Peter R. Uhlenberg, a professor at the University of North Carolina reveals that the likelihood that a 20-year-old today will have a living grandmother (91 percent) is higher than the likelihood that a 20-yearold in 1900 had a living mother (83 percent). Further, the current generation of 20 and 30-years olds is taking longer to finish their education and become self-sufficient. As a result, more grandparents are assisting with financing their grandchildren's education. Tuition payments can be a good taxplanning device for seniors, either through 529 plans, or direct payments to schools.

There can be a downside for the grandparents and the parents when the grandparents provide financial or other assistance. The grandparents can feel that their assistance spoils their children and grandchildren and gives them a sense of entitlement that they would not otherwise have. The adult children can feel infringed upon when the grandparent who has been providing financial or childcare help criticizes the parent's child rearing or makes forceful suggestions regarding the house. Many families feel, however, that the assistance from the grandparents makes the difference between a life of relative ease and a struggle to make ends meet. Further, grandchildren have the opportunity to get to know their grandparents and appreciate what they are doing for the family.

The Estate Planning and Elder Law Firm can help seniors assist their family members while making sure that the seniors' own needs are met.

See the July 14, 2005, New York Times article: "Financially-Set Grandparents Help Keep Families Afloat, Too," by R. Tamar Lewin.

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The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C. is an elder law firm. We represent older persons, disabled persons, their families, and their advocates. The practice of elder law includes estate planning, estate and trust administration, powers of attorney, advance medical directives, titling of assets and designations of beneficiaries, guardianships, conservatorships, and public entitlements such as Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, and SSI, disability planning, income tax planning and preparation, care management, and fiduciary services. For more information about The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C., please visit our website at http://www.chroniccareadvocacy.com.

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This newsletter is not intended as a substitute for legal counsel. While every precaution has been taken to make this newsletter accurate, we assume no responsibility for errors, omissions, or damages resulting from the use of the information in this newsletter. The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C. thanks the law firm of Hook Law Center for their input to this newsletter.

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