While we are on the legalities, do you have a will? You certainly need one, whoever you are, but if you have custody of grandchildren, or you you've adopted your grandchildren, you need to make one. Yesterday.
BIG NOTE: I am NOT an attorney. I am a grandparent who has been raked over the coals by an adult child who, for whatever reasons, lost custody of her elder children to the Mister and me. We later adopted them.
There is a difference between a ward and a legal child. One of these differences is that the probate court, in most states, or the family court in others, gives you permission to be the guardian or custodian of your grandchildren. An adopted child is one's child just as much as that problem adult child who caused this problem in the first place.
So if you die, according to my sources, you're no longer the guardian. It's hard to take care of kids from the Great Beyond. In some states, however, a standby guardian can be named by the current guardian. The alternative is an "interested person" stepping into the role, or worse, foster care, child protective services or your adult child who doesn't care for them as it is taking over the raising of your grandchildren.
If you have taken the step of adopting your grandchildren, and don't leave a will with a designated guardian, your next-of-kin is your spouse, and your adult children. Yes, that's right. If you don't examine your family situation, your grandchildren could go back to their now legal sibling.
Then there is your Stuff. Even if you think you don't have much, there is bound to be something you don't want Junior or Lulabelle to have. Whether you are the guardian, custodian or legal parent of your grandchildren, you need to tell somebody responsible what to do with your Stuff.
So give yourself a great Christmas present. GET A WILL, POWER OF ATTORNEY AND DESIGNATE IN WRITING WHO TAKES CARE OF YOU TODAY PER YOUR STATE'S LAW. And go see an attorney. Your situation is indeed complicated.
And while you're taking care of the will, etc., then how about your insurance policies and safety deposit box? Is your adult child on any of these? Do you you need to make some changes? Get the forms and get busy.
My cousin was 57 when he died this month, while on his way to work. Thank goodness his adult children are responsible people raising their own kids. But anybody can die at any time.
So, it's a really good idea to give those grandkids a cushion of protection. You've come this far. Get a will. Keep your important papers updated.
If nothing else, you'll get a certain joy from knowing that Junior or Lulabelle will have quite a jolt when you do pass!