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Defining the Legal Relationship Between Grandparents and their Grandchildren

Raising a grandchild (or even spending a lot of time with your grandchild while his or her parents work) can be fraught with legal and financial complications. Lacking many of the inherent rights parents have, grandparents who are responsible for the care of their grandchildren may encounter unexpected legal challenges.
Even if you are your grandchild’s full-time caregiver, consider obtaining certain legal rights so you can avoid unnecessary complications and instead focus on raising a happy and healthy child. 
If you are raising your grandchild, don’t assume you can make legal decisions on your grandchild’s behalf. Without legal custody, you do not have the authority to make important decisions such as where he or she will go to school. If you are responsible for your grandchild’s care, it’s critical to establish a clear relationship in the eyes of the law.
The legal rights you need will depend entirely on your role in raising your grandchild. Does he or she live with you? Are you the …
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What Happens to Your Body When You Die? The Choice Can Be Yours.

Many of us are too afraid of death to carefully consider what happens to our bodies after we die. Unfortunately, failing to plan for that event can leave your wishes unattended to and your family grief struck and unsure how to honor your wishes. And the larger truth is that facing your death proactively creates a better life now.

There are many options for disposal of the body when you die, including burial, cremation, and donation to science. These are difficult decisions to consider, especially if you aren’t familiar with the standard body-handling practices used in our society today.

A humorous—and possibility lighthearted—way to learn about these practices is to read Mary Roach’s Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers (New York, Norton, 2003), which explores the how and why of what happens to bodies when people die.

In Stiff, Roach takes us on a journey—albeit an unconventional one—to see what happens to human cadavers. From surgical practice to crash test dummies, donated—or …

How to Incorporate Family Values in Your Estate Planning

Baby boomers know money isn’t the only important aspect of estate planning. A 2012 study released by the Allianz Life Insurance, Co. showed baby boomers wanted to leave their family more than just financial assets. Researchers found baby boomers identified family values as some of the most important things to pass down to heirs. In 2012’s economic climate, it’s no wonder family values imparted through stories, life lessons, and family possessions were at the top of the list. In an economic downturn, financial inheritances are more tenuous, unlike the abiding worth of family values. Thus, family values, tax-free of course, made the top of the list in importance. But what is interesting is a similar study released by Allianz in 2005 which showed family values were also among the most important legacies boomers wanted to leave behind, even though the economy was more robust. What these studies demonstrate is the enduring importance of family values, morals and meaningful possessions as part …

Commit to Your Estate Plan Before Committing to a Trip Away

If you are planning a vacation, you probably have a lot to prepare for before you get away. Between structuring your itinerary, getting plane tickets or train reservations, and booking hotels, creating an estate plan is probably not something you thought to add to your to-do list. But, think again and consider that now is the time to take action on this vital piece of your legal life planning.
If something were to happen to you while away on vacation, whether an illness, injury or even death, your family would be stuck with a huge mess to clean up.
The Barber family of Southern California is an unfortunate example. Mom, dad and three kids went on a roadtrip to Arizona where they were in a terrible accident. Mom and dad died, and their three boys were injured, but alive.

It took the authorities a couple of days to locate any relatives, during which time the boys were in the protective custody of strangers. A fate no parent ever wants for their children in a time of tragedy, fear and grie…

How to Change Your Name after the Wedding or Divorce

If you are Jason Bourne or some other international spy with numerous fake passports, please disregard this article and go about shooting bad guys in unrealistically spectacular fashion.  For everybody else, primarily brides and divorcees, the following may help you more efficiently change your name.Although it may appear overwhelming, thankfully it’s a fairly simple process if you have what you need at the outset.

1) You need proof that your name has changed.  Brides should purchase several certified copies of the executed certificate of marriage and divorcees should purchase several certified copies of the final order.  Buy more than you think you will need so you will not have to return later for more copies.
2) Start using your name immediately.  Social media is usually the fastest and easiest way to notify all your friends and acquaintances at once (thus eliminating the necessity of formal announcements). This will also motivate you to complete the rest of the process!
3) Notify ap…

Documents Every Graduating Senior and College Student Needs

Now that high school graduation is upon us, it’s a time for celebration and reflection for parents and students alike. For parents, you now face the fact that your little bird is leaving the nest.  Is he or she ready? Legally, they are adults now and entitled to privacy protections. This means that even though your child may be relying on your financial support, privacy laws prohibit financial institutions, medical providers and colleges from disclosing private information concerning your child unless authorized. In case of an emergency, your child needs the following documents in place for you to be able to help them and make decisions on their behalf:
  1. Durable Power of Attorney: This document allows you to manage their financial affairs (either immediately or in the future) should they travel abroad or become mentally or physically unable to do so. This includes managing their financial accounts,  renewing their car registration, or filing a tax return on their behalf.
  2. Medica…

Mother's Day: A Time for Reflection and Celebration

This is the time of year that we celebrate motherhood, not only the day-to-day life of being a mom, but also the journey itself.  For some, infertility challenges that journey.  Thankfully there are more options than ever for those who want to become a mother. For many, like myself, the solution was adoption.  I am so thankful for the miracle of adoption, but is it right for you?  The following questions may help you find your answer.
Are you emotionally prepared for adoption? As with making any family planning decision, adoption requires a lot of self-reflection. It also requires that you come to terms with any grief you are experiencing resulting from infertility issues. A friend who adopted told me that she decided to adopt because the chances of becoming a parent were much higher than IVF. That’s true, but there are other challenges to consider. Open adoption is now the norm and it is recommended by experts in the field. Consequently, birth parents will become a part of your famil…