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  • Writer's pictureCatherine Swan

What Grandparents Need to Know about Estate Planning

Have you ever seen the episode of Modern Family where Phil’s mom dies, and the whole family goes down to Florida for the funeral?

Alex, the middle grandchild, is feeling left out because all Grandma left her was a lighter, and she can’t understand why.

At the end of the episode, she finds a note from her grandmother that explains why the lighter is so important (it was Paul Newman’s) and it’s special significance to her serious-minded granddaughter, “who’s probably too much like [her] for her own good.” She tells Alex it’s okay to break the rules sometimes.

It affirms Alex’s belief that she’s special to her grandmother, that they had a special bond. And even though it’s not a monetary inheritance, it has a great deal of meaning for Alex. We know that she will treasure this lighter for always. She might even hand it down to her own granddaughter, someday.

That’s how families are built, on legacies like this. Special stories. Important artifacts.

There are many ways that you can provide for your grandchildren through your estate plan without leaving a great deal of money. Special gifts can be noted in your personal property memo, so they can be distributed properly after your death.

You can record special memories with your voice, so the grandkids can listen to them.

You can answer questions, such as our Legacy Club, so they can have a better sense of your life and values.

If your children are financially secure, you might consider leaving an inheritance to your grandchildren. If you leave the money to them outright, it may be subject to the Generation-Skipping Tax. A trust can help minimize taxes, so you can support their dreams.

There are ways to protect the money from creditors, divorce, and lawsuits. Swan Law can help you create a trust to protect this money and be sure it’s used well, for things like education and healthcare.

For special needs grandchildren, we can help you create a trust that won’t interfere with or interrupt government benefits.

Much of this depends, however, on your children’s estate plan. If they don’t have a plan, you’ll need to talk to them seriously about setting one up. If something happened to them, would you want to be the legal guardian for your grandchildren, or would you rather stay in your grandparenting role, enjoying the kids when you can?

That’s a conversation that should take place between you and your kids. And with an attorney you trust.

Keep your family healthy and happy by setting up a plan and helping your children set up a plan, too. That’s the best protection for grandkids.

You love your grandkids so much. Show them how special they are to you by creating a plan that includes them, their interests, and their needs. That’s how families are built, and how you can create a legacy.

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