Author Topic: Family Caretaking Question/Feedback Appreciated  (Read 4870 times)

10YearGoal

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Family Caretaking Question/Feedback Appreciated
« on: January 01, 2015, 05:30:01 PM »
So I am the primary caretaker for an elderly declining parent who lives with me. I have several siblings, two that help lighten my load. One of those siblings and I are in charge of parent's money of which there is a healthy amount, over 500k. We have decided to pay small sums to them for being the only 2 who visit and help weekly to defray the cost of gas and meals. I have had to quit 2 part-time jobs due to caretaking which obviously decreases my income. My sibs that don't visit much feel that because a small apt was added onto my house that I took from their inheritance, forget about our increased expenses of utilities, taxes, etc.  If I sound dispassionate it's because I have to deal with the daily emotional burden of seeing parent decline as well as wondering why her kids aren't visiting, super hard on the soul. So here is my question......

I want to pay myself a small amount to make up for the lost income. Right now these sibs can't do jack about the finances but after parent passes they could sue me, which is possible. Presently, I just use money for parent's necessities. They have no problem with money being spent to hire help at a high rate of pay, but will have a problem with me making up for lost income. Parent feels more comfortable with less paid help and more family help.

Any practical advice that I could use due to being emotionally and physically overloaded right now?  Any other mustachians found themselves in a similar situation? I am so grateful for and enlightened by this community, I figured a shout out was worth a shot.  Thank you and Happy 2015!

Reyes01

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Re: Family Caretaking Question/Feedback Appreciated
« Reply #1 on: January 01, 2015, 05:42:35 PM »
By "in charge of their money" do you mean a power of attorney? Or a conservatorship? And if a conservatorship, does your jurisdiction have rules about conservator self-payments?

TerriM

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Re: Family Caretaking Question/Feedback Appreciated
« Reply #2 on: January 01, 2015, 06:33:28 PM »
Ouch.  Touchy situation.

What you're asking for is fair, especially if you quit jobs to take care of your parent.    Be sure to keep copies of your taxes and time sheets/etc. in case you do end up in a court situation later.  I suspect the judge will have much more sympathy for you than for the siblings.

As for the apartment, it seems like it would be fair to count that against your own inheritance later when your parent dies, but pay yourself now for your time.

Is your parent of sound mind?

10YearGoal

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Re: Family Caretaking Question/Feedback Appreciated
« Reply #3 on: January 01, 2015, 08:40:12 PM »
No, my parent is declining with significant dementia. That's a good tip to keep tax paper work,thanks!

As for the apt/inheritance issue, I struggle with that. This living arrangement has been in place for over 3 years with lots of hospital/rehab stays and increasing care needs over the past year. I don't know that I see an apt as much of an asset, more that it was built to avoid a nursing home, which would absolutely have been the case for the past year. This is where my rational mind exits; a nursing home is 5-8k/month, so I guess I would see it as already having saved money for everyone. Not to mention care with love as opposed to another setting.

My sibling and I share POA; there is a solid trust.  It's the day-to-day stuff that I have access to, a small portion with a checking account which I think really bugs the MIA siblings. I don't think I would classify it as a paycheck, more like a chipping in for bills kind of thing so wouldn't need to deal with conservatorship issues, I don't think.

It's a sad place to be for a parent and the reason I wrote is to get some rational, nonpredjudicial feedback on whether I am doing the right thing.  Family shit can cause me to go offline and I may tell someone in a similar situation something different than what I think about my stuff simply because there is no emotional involvement, you know? Thanks for the feedback!

GizmoTX

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Re: Family Caretaking Question/Feedback Appreciated
« Reply #4 on: January 01, 2015, 08:50:25 PM »
Don't be intimidated by the MIA siblings. They are not there caring for your parent, which is what's important. But, you also have to care for yourself so you can care for your parent. Just document everything.

TerriM

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Re: Family Caretaking Question/Feedback Appreciated
« Reply #5 on: January 01, 2015, 08:54:35 PM »
The apartment is an asset--you can rent it out later.  So I can see them arguing that it has solid benefit.  Your time is a loss--you will not recoup that ever again.  On the one hand you love your parent and want the best for them, on the other hand, if you need to be working, and your siblings are not taking on an equal share of the care, you are out time=money.  If that money were spent on a nurse, then they're ok, but if you get it they're not? 

Have you considered talking about it with the MIA siblings?  I don't know if that would make things worse, but maybe point out that you're really having some difficulty managing this on your own.

Maybe they prefer the parent be in the nursing home?

Or maybe they need an assurance that you believe everyone should get a fair share of inheritance, but that you're losing time=money *right now* dealing with this, and you consider it unfair.


My views on this have changed a bit.  In the past, I didn't really appreciate why people fought over this kind of thing.  But now, as I think about my parents, there's a decent chance that my brother will be the one taking care of my dad since he's still living with at home.  I think he absolutely deserves something for that (the house most of all--but it's not that expensive).  If my mom survives my dad, I may be the one taking her in.... 

One thing you may want to do is simply to hire a nurse and go back to work.  Maybe that's not what the parent wants, but you do still have to look after your own needs. 

Ultimately, you should probably talk to a lawyer and see what they say.

scrubbyfish

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Re: Family Caretaking Question/Feedback Appreciated
« Reply #6 on: January 01, 2015, 08:57:22 PM »
Yep, absolutely agree that paying yourself is right/ethical/moral/positive. Caregiving is tough on multiple levels. You need ways to be replenished -financially, yes, and also emotionally, etc, and money can help that too (counselling, a massage, etc). Are you sure your siblings would be opposed? I can see that it would be even lovelier to have a written agreement between them and you, to resolve any worry about a lawsuit later. Perhaps if it were out in the open, discussed, mutually agreed on they would be more amenable? Perhaps it's the option for a "variable" amount from the chequing account that stresses them out? i.e., Sometimes, a hammered-out, concrete amount that's higher than current might feel more acceptable than a variable amount they didn't get to input on, even if it actually comes out lower, know what I mean?

TerriM

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Re: Family Caretaking Question/Feedback Appreciated
« Reply #7 on: January 01, 2015, 09:09:14 PM »
That's a great point scrubby fish.


OP, are all of you in the same location?  How far away are the MIA siblings if not?

mxt0133

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Re: Family Caretaking Question/Feedback Appreciated
« Reply #8 on: January 01, 2015, 09:56:33 PM »
I witnessed this first hand with my grandparents where they were both in need of full-time care.  My grandparents had funds set aside for this, which my uncle managed, and decided to give their children an early inheritance by "giving" them land and their house.  After my grandfather died all of a sudden the funds were depleted.  It was news to us but since my uncle does all the work of taking care of them we trust him unconditionally. 

So the discussion came up with how to take care of my grandmother and my uncle suggested everyone contribute to her expenses.  My uncles and aunts are all in different financial positions and could not all contribute equally, so my uncle proposed buying each other out of their "share".  This is when my father finally said out loud what everyone else was missing, including me, that the house and land were not my uncles or aunts yet, it was still my grandmother's.  So those should be sold to fund my grandmother's expenses.  A few rejected the idea because the house was sentimental and wanted to use it as a vacation home, the land is worth more if it was developed with houses and sold individually instead of an empty parcel of land, ect.  My father finally said, 'do what you want but he was not going to contribute a penny until the land and house were sold'. 

It was kind of sad seeing my uncles and aunts already trying to invest and maximize their inheritance while my grandmother was still alive.  In the end they sold the land which give her enough funds for a few years.  A few months later disaster strikes the area, the house is ruined and the land that was sold is now worthless.

Sorry OP, but back to your situation.  I would for the sake of transparency and any future litigation keep record of your current expenses, include market for a full-time care taker which is what any one of the siblings should be paid, and withdrawals of your parent's funds.  I would then listen to what objections they have and try to come to a solution that everyone is in agreement with.  In the event that everyone cannot agree then I would ask which other sibling is willing to take over taking care of your parent.  If no one steps up then tell them it's not their inheritance yet it's still your parent's money.
« Last Edit: January 01, 2015, 10:00:25 PM by mxt0133 »

former player

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Re: Family Caretaking Question/Feedback Appreciated
« Reply #9 on: January 02, 2015, 03:02:59 AM »
For the best of reasons you have ended up in quite a complicated financial situation.

I am concerned about the legal and financial position on the apartment: presumably you used your power of attorney to spend your parent's money on what is in fact (however you regard it) an extension/improvement to your property which has presumably increased it's value.  You need to find a way of accounting for this: possibly when your parent dies the estate could value your property with and without the extension and the increased value (if any) could be deducted from your share of the estate?  That way you can say with confidence that you will have got no financial benefit out of the arrangement.  If you could set up something like this and agree it with your siblings now, it could help reduce future problems and also put you in a better position to agree current on-going costs.

As to those on-going costs, I would have thought that you would be entitled (with your co-attorney's agreement, and notifying your other siblings) to have-

1)  A fair apportionment of the household costs attributable to your parent's occupation of the apartment (taxes, water, power, etc.), backdated as necessary to the time your parent took up occupation of the apartment.
2)  Payment of your parent's ongoing necessities.
3)  Compensation, at an equivalent hourly rate, for the jobs you have stopped doing in order to have the time to care for your parent.

You do need to keep meticulous records of expenditures.  If you are going to claim for your time, I think you should also keep records of the time you spend caring for your parent and the jobs you do for them: it will show how time-consuming what you do is and why you are justified in claiming. 

As to your siblings, I would suggest that you and your co-attorney write a letter to all of them setting out-
1) What money your parent has, how it is invested and what the net income is.
2) How you propose to account for the apartment
3) What you are paying for day to day costs of housing and necessities
4) What you are paying in medical/nursing home costs
5) A record of the time you are spending caring for your parent and the payments to be made to you in lieu of your job
6) What the current rates are for equivalent full-time nursing home care for a person in your parent's condition in a decent local home
7) That all of them are welcome to spend time with your parent whenever they like
8) That you will update this information to them all on a quarterly basis.

It would be a fair bit of work to do this.  But if you do you will have everything out in the open and a much lower chance of complaints later.

Most of all, please "look after yourself first" - if nothing else, you need to keep yourself well and happy in order to do a good job of looking after your parent.  Best wishes to you.

lakemom

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Re: Family Caretaking Question/Feedback Appreciated
« Reply #10 on: January 02, 2015, 06:32:55 AM »
Have you checked into getting paid as the caregiver through medicare/aid I can never keep those two names clear.  They pay a monthly stipend to the caregiver whether family or outsider.  I have a friend who gets paid to care for her grandmother (in friends home).  You don't mention SS benefits at all but those should be helping with your mother's expenses as well.  IMO as far as the apartment your Mother should be paying market rate for a similar rental since having her there saves the "estate" that much money per month.  If Mother's money paid for the addition then keeping track of the "rent" as a credit towards that amount monthly should save any "well she already got $X from the estate" arguments later on.  So, Mom paid $30,000 to build the apartment, market rate is $1k per month, Mom credits 12k per year towards the "repayment" of the "loan" to build the apartment but no cash actually changes hands.  This shows the siblings AND courts that while you did have the apt. built, the "savings" in rent has already reimbursed the estate for that cash outlay.  My sympathies and prayers for you as you deal with such a stressful and sad situation.

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: Family Caretaking Question/Feedback Appreciated
« Reply #11 on: January 02, 2015, 06:37:43 AM »
Protect yourself with records, but if you feel that what is best is for you to do the caretaking, do what you need to do (within legal/ethical bounds) to make that possible and deal with the consequences later knowing you've done what's right.

SailAway

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Re: Family Caretaking Question/Feedback Appreciated
« Reply #12 on: January 02, 2015, 08:26:13 AM »
You've gotten better advice than I can give you. You certainly have my sympathy, what you are doing is difficult and draining, and getting static from your siblings has got to be frustrating. I would suggest you talk to an Elder Law attorney, sooner rather than later. I hope your siblings understand that if your parent would have to be placed in a nursing home, the nursing home would spend down the estate to nothing before medicaid would take over paying. The nursing home can drain assets much faster than you would think, leaving them with no inheritance whatsoever.

10YearGoal

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Re: Family Caretaking Question/Feedback Appreciated
« Reply #13 on: January 02, 2015, 10:15:01 AM »
How great is it that I can get get intelligent supportive advice from this community, thank you from the bottom of my heart! I can't tell you how helpful this is, both logistically and otherwise.

Ok, here's the cold hard facts:

1.  Siblings and I met with lawyer 5 years ago to discuss possibility of situation. Lawyer said mom taking financial gamble and I was taking caregiving gamble. Both of us fine with it then and now. Mom said " it's my $ and I can do what I want with it". Spent 100k to build her little dream house exactly the way she wanted it, and says often that it was the best decision she ever made. Not really rentable due to codes, town laws etc.

2. When she moved in 3+ years ago, we agreed on $250/month for utilities, taxes etc. 2 years ago she decided to increase it to $500, which is a more accurate portion according to our records of monthly expenses.  It's been that amount up until now.

3. Gets 2k monthly in SS, pension, annuities that I have access to and pay for her food and hygiene needs as well as 15 hours for HHA at $26/hour. It's expensive but with an agency so we are not open to liability which we would be with under the table care. She's been in and out of hospital so spending has been down which is good. She has a nest egg separate from this that may have to be cracked open at some point but that's where things could get even more yucky.

3. MIA sisters live 4 and 10 miles away. They spend significant time in warmer climes. One of them is the most vocal of how "unfair" things are and the least likely to visit. She left this week for 3+ months in the Caribbean. No I am not making this up. Have one brother that lives local that visits (his wife is my angel) and another brother down south that doesn't visit much but when he does he's a huge help.

4. I work full-time, husband retired in Last spring and does all of the am care. I do the rest and my sister and SIL each do 1 night a week. I had to let go of 2 side gigs due to increasing needs, so it's had a specific financial impact on us.

5. She is declining physically and cognitively and talks about being "ready to go". I am fine discussing that and other dementia-laced meaningful topics often. My goal is to make her laugh often and my best holiday 2014 memory is the adventurous hours spent writing cards and checks for children and grandchildren with her. My stomach hurt from laughing.  That's what so sad, she is still the same awesome person and they have written her off.

6. Had a sibling meeting last spring where I felt like I had gotten run over by a truck. Not psyched to do that again, but will if I have to.

So, with the sage MMM community advice, I am thinking of:

1. Making another appt with moms lawyer, with whom I met after sibling meeting. He told me then that sibs have no claim to apt legally and time-wise she has gotten a good return on her 100k when other alternatives are compared such as assisted living or nursing home care.

2. Up until now the passive aggressive in me balled up and threw away the receipts for Depends etc because I can't wrap my mind around that. But....I guess I should keep them. How sad, IMO.

Any and all feedback is appreciated, I'm trying to see this from an angle that is more business like and less emotional.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!!!

scrubbyfish

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Re: Family Caretaking Question/Feedback Appreciated
« Reply #14 on: January 02, 2015, 10:21:51 AM »
Spent 100k to build her little dream house exactly the way she wanted it

Thank you SO MUCH for doing this for her!!!!!!!!! :)

Well, everything else you've done and are doing, too! But this too is just so beautiful. I love that she had this dream come true while she could/can enjoy it!

TerriM

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Re: Family Caretaking Question/Feedback Appreciated
« Reply #15 on: January 02, 2015, 07:29:59 PM »
1.  Siblings and I met with lawyer 5 years ago to discuss possibility of situation. Lawyer said mom taking financial gamble and I was taking caregiving gamble. Both of us fine with it then and now. Mom said " it's my $ and I can do what I want with it". Spent 100k to build her little dream house exactly the way she wanted it, and says often that it was the best decision she ever made. Not really rentable due to codes, town laws etc.

Ok.  If she made that decision while she had presence of mind, then I agree you don't owe anyone anything for it.

10YearGoal

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Re: Family Caretaking Question/Feedback Appreciated
« Reply #16 on: January 02, 2015, 07:46:51 PM »
Just curious Feynman Fan, how do you think being on a thread would cause me harm?

mozar

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Re: Family Caretaking Question/Feedback Appreciated
« Reply #17 on: January 02, 2015, 09:04:14 PM »
I think Feynman Fan is overreacting. If your siblings don't even want to bother visiting your mother, they won't be bothered with tracking down which forums you are a part of, going through your personal records to figure out your handle, then reading hundreds of posts to select and take to a lawyer.

Anyways, I think you should increase HHA to cover mornings. Maybe evenings too. If you had them in fulltime that would be 50k which she can easily afford. It's really time to start spending down the 500k which is for your mothers care foremost, not for greedy siblings. My grandmother had live in care at 40k a year. My mom and her siblings didn't even want to pay for a cleaner because it would take away from the inheritance. As much as you love your mother you have to sustain yourself too. Her needs will only increase.

10YearGoal

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Re: Family Caretaking Question/Feedback Appreciated
« Reply #18 on: January 02, 2015, 09:25:07 PM »
Thanks You Guys :-)

 It's true that she should be the top priority, and that involves spending. I see more and more of us faced with similar decisions and feel grateful that my parents had a plan for their estate.  I have friends who are in much worse financial situations partly bc their parents did not make any plan, or put some bs clauses in, what a mess!!

However, I know that she would be better off physically and mentally with family care, which led me to asking whether I should cut back on work and pay myself.  I am talking to our lawyer and will keep the post posted.

Btw totally agree that my ultra-consuming siblings certainly are not lurking on MMM, and don't think I've said anything litigious or untrue.