By Carolyn Rosenblatt
Q: Is there a way to use my mother's assets to compensate me as her caregiver?
A: Possibly, depending on your situation. If no one in your family is in disagreement with the arrangement, it is perfectly legal for your mother to pay you for getting care she would otherwise have to pay someone else to provide if you didn't.
The clearest way to handle this is with a caregiver contract between you and your mother, so that your duties and her expectations, as well as the rate of pay you are to receive are spelled out in writing. An elder law attorney can prepare such a contract for you.
Be aware that payment of a salary carries with it tax obligations on your part, and contribution for you to Social Security, disability and unemployment insurance on your mother's part, in the form of deductions from your paycheck. You may need a bookkeeper to advise you.
Difficulties sometimes arise with getting paid for caregiving, as it may cause conflict with siblings or others in the family who want to inherit the funds your mother is paying for your caretaking. Before arranging such compensation, it is wise to seek the advice of an elder law attorney, to be sure there is not a problem with doing so. Such factors as available long-term care insurance, if your mother has such a policy, trying to become eligible for Medicaid, and other factors can complicate the arrangement of your mother paying you for caregiving. Her competence to decide to pay you out of her assets is also a consideration to discuss with the elder law attorney.