Conventional wisdom says that raising children is best left to the young. Unfortunately, that’s not always the way things work out.

If you’re a grandparent who has taken on the responsibility of raising your grandchildren for an absent parent, you need to plan a few things differently than younger parents.

Here’s a guide that may help you get started:

1. Get all your legal paperwork in order.

If you’ve taken on the parental responsibilities for your grandchildren, you need to legally protect yourself — and your grandchildren. Without legal guardianship, the absent parent could step back in out of the blue and undo all of the stability you’ve created for your grandkids.

You have the ability to pursue legal guardianship when your grandchildren’s parents are:

  • Deceased
  • Incarcerated
  • Abusive
  • Neglectful
  • Mentally ill
  • Alcoholic
  • Drug-addicted

An attorney can help you convince the court that it would be in your grandchildren’s best interests to have you as their guardian.

However, that’s not the only thing you need to do. You’ll also need to make sure that your will is up-to-date and you’ve named someone to care for your grandchildren if you should pass away before they are raised. Get help with your estate plans as soon as possible.

2. Revise your financial plans.

Taking on the task of raising a young family may mean revising your retirement plans.

It’s wise to sit down with a financial planner and discuss your retirement accounts, life insurance policies and annuities. You may also want to discuss college savings plans for your grandkids, including 529 plans. A disability insurance plan for yourself might also be wise, in case your health becomes an issue before you’re ready to retire.

3. Get a strong support team in place.

Aside from your attorney, your financial planner and your insurance agent, you should also consider getting a therapist — for you and your grandchildren. None of the reasons that might have landed you and your grandchildren in this position are pleasant. You and your grandchildren may need to process a lot of negative feelings in order to be healthy.