Chapter 11The Grandkids Need Your Help More than Ever

One of the prime financial goals of many older Americans is to help their grandchildren. They believe that the grandchildren's generation will have a more difficult time financially than either their parents or grandparents did. The adult children, meanwhile, either have established themselves or shown that they won't make good use of money that is given or left to them.

The grandchildren aren't expected to inherit much from their parents. The cost of college education and the price of the average home continue to climb to levels unimaginable a few decades ago. Many young people enter their twenties with tens of thousands of dollars of higher education debt. The grandchildren also face the prospect of bailing out the failing Social Security and Medicare systems while dealing with the likelihood that those programs won't be nearly as generous to them as they were to previous generations.

Financial services firms are aware of this interest in helping the grandchildren and offer programs to assist. Unfortunately, not all the programs carry strong benefits or are good in all situations. A strategy that benefits one family could be inappropriate for another. There are heavily promoted strategies aimed at grandparents that are more like gimmicks than smart financial planning. In addition, some strategies that were tried and true only a few years ago are no longer the best choices. It takes more knowledge and deliberation to choose ...

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