It’s nothing new to say that kids are expensive, but what happens when paying expenses for adult children cuts into retirement savings? Recent research shows that many near-retirees in the United States do not have adequate savings — an issue that can be compounded when tuition, wedding expenses and even caring for adult children gets added to the mix. Understanding how to protect their own retirement funds while managing expectations from kids is an Elder Law issue that faces many in Delaware, particularly those with adult children who are not financially independent.

One of the biggest costs where aging parents are pitching in more than ever before is housing. This can include helping a child with his or her first down payment or covering his or her rent during school. While this can be helpful when parents or grandparents can afford to help, those who have limited retirement savings may find themselves strained financially after making that decision. This can lead to feelings of regret and tension down the line.

This is not necessarily the fault of children themselves, as high prices in the housing market make it difficult for many to buy a house without help from more senior members of the family. Since 2000, housing prices have increased 67 percent on average, while millennials’ income has only grown 31 percent. However, this reality does not change the fact that, by trying to help the situation too much, parents and grandparents could set themselves up for financial failure in retirement.

The financial relationship between kids and their parents is a long-standing Elder Law issue. Although there are good reasons to help where feasible, children can take advantage of parents financially as well. Discussing major gifts — such as those down payments — with a Delaware Elder Law attorney before finalizing the transfer can help aging individuals protect their own interests while supporting their families.