Reply with quote #1
What in your opinon is fair if a parent decides that they want to change their will due to the fact that one adult child did all of the hands on caregiving and the other did nothing.
The caregiver took care of first the mother and now the father. This has been going on for the last 5 yrs. The father now wants to leave the house to the caregiver child and change the other assets to at least 60/40 or possibly 70/30. The father has many physical issues but is sharp mentally, he just realizes now that he needs help how much the caregiver child did for the mother. The caregiver child gave up their job, so they not only lost income but their Social Security is now impacted. The other child has a good job, a wife who works, and they have a combined income of 120K a year and retirement accounts. So one child has done all the caregiving, and the other one hardly ever calls. Just want some thoughts on this. Thanks.
Reply with quote #2
It is only right and fair that the one who has done the most receive the most, but unfortunately this may lead to "undue influence" lawsuits after death.
I suggest that when a will is changed to favor the caregiver child that a video be made of the "caree" explaining why he/she decided to do this. The video should be given out to all family members before death. It is hard to argue that someone was coerced with this kind of "documentation."
Also add a penalty clause to the will, making it clear that anyone who challenges the will will forfeit his/ her share.
I suggest that anyone pursuing this course hire legal counsel.
Reply with quote #3
I think it's absolutely fair. Nobody has an inherent right to the assets of a deceased person, although people seem to think that blood relation implies some sort of automatic entitlement. I would be aghast if the parents, assuming they still have assets left after years of needing care, did not want to favor the child who gave up so much time, labor, income and benefits to help them. The idea of treating the offspring equally would be grossly unfair, in my opinion.
Fed Up w MIL
Reply with quote #4
I really like your video suggestion Equality.
Unfortunately, for non-hands on children, "fair" usually only means a money split.
I know of at leat two situations in my family where when the carer received a bigger chunk, bad blood ensued. My mom helped my grandmother for about 7 yrs. Mostly driving, appts, shopping, and a lot of companionship. When she was failing in the hospital before she died, the other sibs didn't even visit. They were realy upset that my mom got a bigger share; in fact grandma told my mom that they were going to whine for more, but to not give it. She should've explained this more in her will though.
Another was an unmariried, childless cousin who took in her dementia-addled mother. It was a nightmare. Then she had to have help in so she could go to her job, and so on. Forget having any type of romantic life and it didn't help her career either. This situation went on for at least 5 yrs. Her sibs were over a 1000 miles away going about their lives unimpacted. When cousin got more, the claws came out.
Reply with quote #5
It is interesting that the concept of "total fairness" is promoted only when money is up for grabs. Have you ever heard siblings arguing that it is grossly "unfair" that one sibling gets to do most of the caregiving?
Reply with quote #6
All good comments.
Equality, you brought up some good ideas, especially the video taping and if someone contests the will they get nothing. Fed UP MIL, while I see your point, you're forgetting one very important thing. Let's be honest, when one adult child does all the caregiving and another one or more than one does nothing once the parents are passed there is no relationship anyway between the siblings. So who really cares if the claws come out? You just need to do as Equality suggested and have a lawyer cover all the bases. In most cases the sibling relationship is beyond repair and the caregiver child doesn't want or need any contact with their sibling. They're disgusted with them and for good reason. Every caregiver situation that I know of where one adult child did it all has resulted in little to no contact with the siblings, regardless of how the will is divided, once the parent/parents are gone. Because the caregiver is disgusted with their brother or sister and has no reason to have a relationship with that sibling going forward. So if do nothing child has their nose out of joint, does it really matter when the caregiver child has nothing but disdain for that sibling anyway and wants nothing to do with them?
Reply with quote #7
John, it is amazing how different families handle this. For us, I may have done most of the hands on, but my surviving brother handled the financial so we both cared as we best could.. Being that my husband's work was the basis of our insurance and pension, I wasn't giving up much when I quit my job, but many here have given up their own future to care for their parents' present. So, how does recognition and compensation for very REAL WORK come to be?
My brother insisted that I be payed what I had given up and while it didn't begin to compensate for the increase in hours and stress, but it helped a lot. I did not live in my parents' home. I managed the 24/7 care that was required, did the shopping and transportation, hired, fired, did payroll, did my own shifts and filled in for any emergencies and holidays. I think family care givers should be paid in the present if at all possible.. in a way that reflects the proper pay of a CG, chauffeur, home maintenance manager, house keeper, cook, etc. realizing that some discount may be in order for the parts that you do for yourself as well and if you live in, some consideration for rent (very CHEAP rent), keeping in mind that you are on call 24/7 and have no privacy. If that is the CG's home, too, then the CG should have life rights. If your father is going to change his will, then there will be a lawyer involved. It is possible (I have seen it done) to have a small allowance paid to the CG and to arrange reasonable charges to be applied against the estate after death. Then equally divide the remainder. With life rights to the house included, it gives time to regroup, but not be "stuck" on your own with the upkeep forever. Be aware that if it is compensation for work done, you will have to pay income taxes and SS. With that in mind, a free and clear inheritance is best. If it is tied to your "work" in a video, it might bite you later.
Reply with quote #8
ALSO, if the other sib(s) benefited from education payed for by the parents that led to higher income and financial security, lol, they got theirs already. They should be able to take care of themselves and need nothing more from the folks.
Reply with quote #9
John made some really good points. I am the one "doing it all" for Mom, with just a little help and support from 2 siblings, while the other 3 go about their lives like nothing is happening. I know 2 of those 3 will be johnny-on-the-spot when it comes time to divvy whatever remains of the estate. I plan to give them their cut and hope I never hear from them again...and I probably won't, until they use up their inheritance and come crying to me for assistance since Mom won't be there anymore. And believe me, I don't plan on being nice at that point. Mom does have a part of her estate trust documents that make me the executor and that I can do what I feel best to portion out the estate, within her directives, and that if any of the sibs want to argue, they automatically forfeit their portion.
Although DH and I don't have near the assests my Mom has, we will be changing our will very soon and plan to give everything to our son, nothing to our daughter who has cut us out of her life for over 10 years anyway. I told son if he felt he should give something to her, that was his perogative, but as he put it "anymore I wouldn't give her the time of day". I plan to put in our will that she cannot legally claim anything.
Reply with quote #10
As always, Equality has great wisdom. An explanation from the elder about why the split is "unfair" might help it in case of future lawsuit.
BC has a good point about paying the caregivers in the present, if possible. I know it's not always possible. Once my mother stopped being able to take care of her own affairs, I visited an attorney to help sort her affairs out. (For heaven's sake, an estate plan is not "I hope I'll die in my sleep at home," but that's what she had, apparently.) The attorney told me about personal services contracts to compensate family caregivers, and I wondered why everybody didn't know about this. It sounds like the reason may be that it's a state-level law that allows them, and it sounds like my state is trying to do away with them. At any rate, I was glad that my sister, who has had to do most of the hands-on care while I have handled ridiculously muddled financial end of things, was going to get some supplementation after having her life and home turned upside-down. Not that my life hasn't been significantly impacted, but not to the same extent as my sister. It's only fair. If people could reach an arrangement like that while the elder was still alive, there wouldn't be as much quarreling over the remains in the will.
Reply with quote #11
All very interesting points and lots to think about. I agree with BC about education received but it seems to me that the ones who got the most and succeeded the most in terms of career and earnings are the ones who also concern themselves the most about how much they'll get. BTW, they're also the ones who are the busiest and have the least free time to help out, holidays, golf, gym etc., just take up so much time! I guess it's called living their own lives! Just my personal experience.
The other thing that strikes me is that it's so much down to the parent and how realistic their thinking is in terms of how they see things. I am the only daughter in our family and like my Mum, we females don't need to be informed. That's men's business. So, although I am the only caregiver of all his children, I'm the only one who didn't get a serious third level education meaning that I will always need an employer to survive, I can't take up meaningful employment anyway while I'm caring for Dad, he's busy transferring his funds to my brothers, he begrudges every penny I spend on the upkeep of HIS house, hence the place is in a really decrepit state, (although he thinks it's a highly desirable property), he frets incessantly about trying to be "fair" in terms of his will and pins me in the chair constantly telling me how much he's going to leave me but is not sharp-minded enough these days to keep track of the zeroes, in other words it's a bunch of nonsense that wrecks my head and if I don't appear to be grateful enough and give enough thanks again and again, he is highly offended. How many times can one person give sufficient thanks for goodness knows what, if anything? He, and the others, keep me in the dark now about Dad making his will despite the fact that I'm the one who made the initial contact with his accountant, set up meetings between them to talk things through and got the whole show on the road when Dad was going mad over not being able to find his earlier will. Constantly crying about "where can it be" and ignoring the fact that the executor in whose care he claims he left it, is now in a nursing home suffering from dementia and remembers nothing about it anyway, is just crazy so in order to save what's left of my own sanity as well as his own, I looked into the first steps to help him make a new will. And that's all I did, I didn't discuss numbers with him, I didn't discuss what's fair and what's not or who helped and who didn't, none of those things because I need to be able to live with myself afterwards. Nobody can shake a finger at me about undue influence because I didn't involve myself in that regard. But on the other hand, "they" don't seem to think that what's going on has anything to do with me, despite the fact that they now control my entire future! This whole mad approach to important life changing decisions stems from Dad's secretive, tell "her" nothing way of doing things. Mum complained about it to me for years, saying that if anything happened to him and she was left alone, she would know nothing about insurance, wills, money, deeds, etc., etc., etc., and absolutely nothing has changed. Only now, the apples really didn't fall far from the tree.......and it continues. And so does the cold, cold dread in the pit of my stomach, just like Mum.
Reply with quote #12
Interesting discussion. It's important to remember that, until the person is dead, there is no inheritance, it is their money to do with as they want, even foolishly. My parents died in 1995 within 6 months of each other. They lived in their own home, as they were relatively young (69 and 70), and didn't "linger" long. My dad succumbed to an inoperable lung cancer. When he found out he was terminal, he advised me that he had seen a lawyer and decided to leave the family home to my sister (free and clear), with an equivalent amount of cash to me. Any remainder would be split 50/50. He didn't ask me my opinion, he made up his own mind and did it. Well, when my mom died 6 months later of diabetes complications, my sister got the house. She immediately moved her family in, and mortgaged it to the max, building room additions and installing an inground pool. Meanwhile, I sent my two boys to college with dad's money, and continued to live frugally. I sort of resented her lifestyle at the time, living to a far higher standard than I did, on half the income. Well, her husband of 30 years up and walked out, leaving her and their daughter. Now she had a mortgage she couldn't afford, no savings or retirement, and a daughter about to start college. But she had a huge house and a pool! Boy, did I feel guilty, since my dad's dying words were, "promise me you'll take care of your sister." Much to my relief, she remarried, so it didn't become MY problem. My MIL, on the other hand, lived with us for the last 6 years of her life and contributed nothing to the household expenses. When she died, everything was split equally among her four children, which they eagerly accepted without question. Again, resentment on my part. But you have to let it go...it's water under the bridge. Inheritance is a gift, not an entitlement, and I feel I accepted mine with gratitude and made good use of it. I need to update my will, and will probably split it 50/50, without regard to "need". I love my sons equally, after all. What they have done with their lives so far, should not impact their "gift", if any. And I have planned my future, so that they won't have to sacrifice their lives to be caregivers.
Reply with quote #13
In my case, I not only took care of my parents when they were sick, but also when my Dad passed and am now taking care of my mother the last 2-1/2 years. At the time my Dad got sick, I insisted my mother get new legal documents written up and any remaining assets to be divided equally between my sister and I. While I have spent more time caring for my parents and will continue to do so until my mother passes, I do feel that I probably should get more, but I have two things to consider. First, money is a sore issue with my sister who never has any and whom I've bailed out to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars. And second, the fact that she has only a small annuity set aside as the result of having won a lottery and I have a significantly larger sum I've saved over the years, if any remains, I probably will end up giving her the majority of it.
Reply with quote #14
I absolutely agree with Mike.. there is no guarantee to inheritance. No way of knowing all of the surprises that occur on the way. This is a big part of why I firmly believe family care givers should be compensated in the present in some way. I was fortunate that my brother (DPOA/POA)also believed it. Perhaps he believed there would be more left over for us to split later, although I am pretty sure that the ladies home would have been more economical if Mom had gone for it when she reached the top of the list. Whatever.
Sideways brought up that your state might possibly have a family care giver's contract. Even if they don't have something by that name, an elder law attorney can help set up something (if there is "something" to work with). If the elder moves in with you, it is totally appropriate to have him or her pay a share of household expenses....just as it is appropriate for an adult child who returns to the parents' house after a job setback or divorce to pay rent or work to compensate for rent. AND if at sometime, the value of that work exceeds room and board (and the value of a CG is very high), that person should be compensated for the difference. (and get bonuses). I know my views may seem to be at odds with traditional ones. But for 3 generations at least, this has been the way of it. My father's father had his old maid sister and his wife's (father's mom's) old maid sister living in the home.. They helped raise my father's 6 siblings and always had a place in the family home.
Reply with quote #15
No, there is no guarantee of an inheritance. There is also no guarantee the US dollar won't collapse ....nothing is guaranteed.
I think some people are missing the point of this thread. There is another thread on here by a caregiver who is now being sued by her do nothing sister to get out of the dead mother's house, because even though the caregiver sister took care of mom in the house for years, the mother never bothered to have things in writing. I don't care who you talk to, it never fails the do nothing child/children are the first ones with their hands out, very rarely do they think or even thank the caregiver child. Yes it is a nice idea to pay the caregiver as you go along, the problem is that when you start out as a caregiver(especially if it is your first time) you have no idea how long a haul you're in for or how involved you will need to get. And many caregivers start out thinking "well they took care of me so I will take care of them", but as things get progressively worse you find yourself doing a lot more than the parents did raising a child. I hate it when people compare caring for an elderly parent like raising a child, not even close. A child eventually gets toilet trained and can take care of themselves as they age. With the parent it gets more and more demanding. As we all know, it gets harder and harder as the elder parent's health gets worse and worse. It is much easier to clean up after a 20 pound baby than a 160 pound adult. So in some cases there may be nothing left, there are plenty of cases where there is something left including a home that is paid for, and many times the adult child caregiver moved into. It is important that these things are discussed and put in writing. And again, if there is bad feelings on the part of the do nothing sibling, does it really matter? Let's face it there will be little or no relationship once the parents are gone anway.