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HORIZON BLOG

Should Family Caregivers Be Paid?

Question

My father is now 92 years old and in need of help quite often. He stopped driving, which was a very good idea.  That means that his doctor appointments, grocery shopping, and all other errands are escorted by his children.  

That’s not all. Soon we will need to do his laundry, clean his apartment, and manage his finances.

The situation we have is that of the three children I seem to be the only one to do the running. My two brothers never offer to help. They both claim other commitments. We all have adult children and are empty nesters. We also live in the same area as dad.

Dad always offers to pay me and since I am doing all the work maybe he should. I do not believe that I will be getting any extra in his will. What are your thoughts?

Answer

This question comes up quite frequently in families and I would guess that in every family with an elderly parent there is one child that does more than the others to help. If or how you should be rewarded is not a simple, one fits all solution.

Assuming that your father is of sound mind, now is the time to talk to him about money. You see, his needs are going to grow as you identified. You will spend more and more time caring for him, as long as he stays in his current living situation. It could be months, or it could be years one never knows for sure.

The fastest way to sibling conflict is money and possessions. Now is the time to have the conversation with your father and your siblings. Not a few years from now when you have been getting paid and are worried, or not getting paid and have resentment.  

If it is your father’s intent to split his assets evenly and to pay for his caregiving needs this should not be too difficult to figure out. Your siblings either step up and do an equal share or your father pays you, which will reduce what everyone inherits.  

For things to work out somewhat smoothly conversation needs to occur. Itemize what needs to be done and the time it takes.  Talk to your siblings and the three of you speak with your father.  

If your father is the sort that does not want to divulge his assets or plan it will be difficult to resolve the situation. I am hoping that he realizes that the three of you want to make sure his is well cared for and has the resources for facility care if needed.  

An unbiased outsider can be very helpful here. Your father’s accountant or estate lawyer is a good place to start.  He or she can help to lay out reasonable options from a financial perspective.  Doing so, up front is the cleanest way to plan for his care needs.  

Creating a plan now is the smartest thing to do. It gets all the children involved in the planning, decision making, and possibly share of the work. When there is imbalance there is conflict and resentment.  This can be avoided if everyone is part of the process. 

 If there are siblings who fain disinterest in the planning and decision making, I would involve an unbiased third party professional, such as dad’s attorney or account to help  draw up a plan.

Caregiving is hard work and complicated. Upfront communication is the key to the best outcome you can hope for.  

 

 

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