This Article was written by Terry McFetridge of Burley Attwood Law.  This firm provides a full range of legal services from property contracts to company and commercial business transactions, dispute resolution, litigation and succession planning.

An increasing consequence of methamphetamine and other drug related addiction is the welfare of children of the addicted. More often, Grandparents are choosing by necessity to take temporary custody of grandchildren, particularly when social services intervene.

The common theme: “It is not their fault their parents are addicts”.

Having an appreciation of possible financial consequences and impacts on succession planning can reduce stress caused by the life changing event that is, caring for a second round of children in your later years.

The topic of this article focuses on some of the many financial issues and succession issues that may arise.

In the short term, plans will often need to address the immediate care and welfare of the children. Changes in your life style, living conditions and retirement plans are made out of necessity for the immediate care of the kids.

In the medium term, when you may be granted care of children for up to two years in the first instance, issues become a reality as you need to rethink, how you will spend your planned retirement, the effects on finances, lifestyle commitments, your own health and even having the energy required to raise young children.

If you are already retired, financial planning may stretch effectively. But what if you do not have the financial capacity to care for one or more grandchildren? Who should bear the financial burden? Can other family members take care of the children?

Flow-on effects apply to other family members who consider whether they have financial capacity? Will a caregiver need to give up paid employment to care for the children? How will their financial commitments, mortgages, their own children’s education and well being requirements and ability to save for retirement be affected?

Should the wider family contribute to compensate the family member providing care?

What if the grandparents pass away or ailment means they can no longer provide care?

Can the children go back to the addicted parent or will care be taken on by other family members?

Should provision be left in grandparents Wills for the caregivers to be given the share the addicted parents would have otherwise received?

Should grandchildren receive the benefit from their grandparent’s estate that their addicted parent would otherwise have received?

Do other estate beneficiaries give up what would have been their share of the estate because of the children of the addicted sibling’s do not have parents who can provide for them?

Long term, the financial planning for your care, care of grandchildren after you have gone and family succession, can be very stressful and create friction in even the most stable of families.

Understanding some of the broader long term issues can be a catalyst for families to have informed discussions about how the children will be cared for and how the whole family can contribute without leaving the burden solely on the grandparents.

The requirements for long term planning are often difficult to ascertain when addiction is being treated. Every family has different dynamics and no one size fits all.

To discuss your specific requirements, please give us a call in the first instance.

This article does not constitute legal advice.  You should obtain specific advice before you make any decisions or take any action based upon information contained therein.