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my mother in law has moved in with us. She was sick at first but now is better. My wife dosen't think that she should contribute a fair portion to the cost of our house hold. (mortage, electric,gas, etc.) because it's her mom. This is going to be a permanant situation. My wife's mother gets a pension and can afford to split the costs. HELP

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Absolutely she should help for many many reasons. The main one being her self respect. Go to a group that offers support for people providing elder care in home and let your wife hear it from other people. My husband used to say "no way" to financial help if we were in that situation, now he says "yes indeedy". He thought "they raised me", well, yes they did...that was their responsibility. You don't know what the future holds and if you were to lose your job it would be suspicious to suddenly ask for money. Get a pattern of payment implemented, and whatever you do, you and your wife don't talk about the agreement with family. Respect your MIL financial privacy.
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So, otherside of the coin. I do not want my MIL to contribute. She does buy her own groceries. She is financially in a very good place, so she could afford to contribute. However, she is a very demanding person. If she were to contribute, she would feel even more entitled to insist we do things her way. She has opinions on how I do laundry, the colors we painted our home, our landscaping, how we raise our children, what toothpaste we use, . . . . It is endless. We already struggle enough as it is with this. I fear that having her contribute would embolden her even more.
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If he is financially well to do the he should contribute
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We are coming up to our one year anniversary of both of my parents (84 and 76) moving in with my husband and I. My dad pays us $250 the first of every month. We had decided on the monthly "rent" before they moved in and it has worked well for us all. He also pays for all the groceries and I do the cooking-I control the diet with Mom being a diabetic and they are actually healthy in some ways then when they were on their own. They do pay for the cable has we installed Dish Network that they had for years and they have their set channels they enjoy. This way they feel that they contribute to the house and it is as much as their home we all share together.
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Nelkster - 1/3 (or less) sounds right. If she ever needs Medicaid, there is a look back period where they try to determine if she gave away money or assets in order to qualify. You need to be able to justify what she pays you. Advice I have received from Social Security rep and local Dept on Aging for my mom is that rent can be 1/3 of the mortgage, taxes, insurance and utilities (because there are 3 adults in the house, including her).

I also suggest writing up a lease/rent agreement and everyone signing it. You can find good ones online. After paying for her other care, my mom can't actually afford to give me anything. But we still do a lease agreement every year and submit it with her Medicaid paperwork. Mom's social worker says that if we didn't, her spend down amount could be even higher (makes no sense, after spend down they don't leave her enough to pay rent, but whatever!).
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Nelkster, If you have the room for 1 more I may be movin in! Sounds very nice. I'm proud of you and your wife and wish there were more of you to go around. :)
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Nelkster: good point...your MIL is not a "guest;" she is family, but she is also sharing your space. If you think about this part of her life in a more business like manner, it will make discussions easier. It would be too difficult to try and figure out a "percentage" of your monthly costs....I would recommend keeping it simple, charge her only what an apartment and utilities would cost in your town. This will also make her feel that she is contributing and not intruding on your space. No one wants to feel like a permanent guest in someone else's home. You are so kind to be this thoughtful to your MIL....
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I have given my MIL her own room with a new led flat screen TV, a new chair with an ottoman, and made it as comfortable as can be. All of this to show her how welcome she is in our home not as a guest but as part of our family,
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I truly thank you for all the answers and advise. My wife an I are not "money grabbing" and we are grateful for her "donations" for groceries and dinners at restaurants. We're just trying to figure out an amicable way to set up a budget. She has her own insurance and even though 86 years old is quite fit and has a good mind. We don't expect he to split 50% but thought 1/3 would be a be a correct amount to aim at.
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All of the comments I have read is great. Just one thought. Please tell your mother-in -law "thank-you" when she pays you. Even though it is for your house hold,if it wasn't for her,you would have the wife you have. Getting old is not fun.Elderly people need to know even though they may have to move in with family, that doesn't mean they are not valued,it's not all about the money but all the wealth of information and stories she can share with your children.
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MIL should absolutely help out with monthly expenses. It doesn't have to be a large amount. My parents live on SSI but still help out with utilities and as Lilliput said, they pay for products that are bought just for them. Also, if this is going to be a long term arrangement, you can claim your MIL on your taxes.
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Find out, in your area, how much rent plus utilities would be for a nice 1 bedroom apt. It would be reasonable for her to pay this amount to you. You cannot charge her half of everthing because she is "renting" from you and you would not charge any renter half of the expenses. She should also pay for any products used exclusively for her care. The rest of her income should be placed in the bank for future care. I would not charge my Mom for taking care of her. Lilli
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Even if you don't want to use the money currently for her share of household expenses, your wife should still consider taking it even if your wife saves it since down the road her mother's cargiving needs will increase and you will have those funds availble to help pay the legitimate expenses or pay for respite care, or a good facility if ever needed. If you don't take her share of costs now, the funds she accumulates might end up going to a nursing home instead or she might not have enough money monthly from just her pension to meet her care needs at a future date.
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Knowing that there's a financial burden associated with caring for the elderly I would say yes. However it needs to be within her means and without wiping her out financially. You also need to discuss her financial needs as far as medical care. If she pays a share of your expenses will you need to finance costs not covered by insurance? When she needs a hired caregiver will you need to pay for that? are there other siblings that can pay for some of these expenses? How does she spend her money? is she saving for when unexpected expenses arise?
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Yes, she should contribute. In this current recession, there are many extended families living together for just this reason, to help offset costs. If your mother-in-law was still living by herself, she would be paying bills where she lived. It would be different and a hardship you would certainly endure, if she did not have an income. Obviously, that is not the case here.
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