How do you track expenses?

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Suddenly I have control over my parents' expenses. I have Power of Attorney and I've been using my parents' checking account to some extent, but mostly I'm charging my credit card and then planning to reimburse myself (and my husband).

I use You Need A Budget for my family finances snd I'd like to find a way to do something similar for my patents. I don't want to abuse their finances, but I don't want to mess up my husband's and mine either.

I'd love to hear what others are doing. Thanks!

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Ditto on Mammaboss! I've been doing Mom's finances for four years now and once a month forward to my sibs an excel spreadsheet of all activities in Mom' s accts and all expenditures. I keep every receipt and have a CPA do her taxes each year. She is in late stage dementia/alzh, but her body is giving out before her mind, I believe, so Medicaid is not an issue right now. What is key is to document everything, don't throw away receipts, and if you can, have a tax professional do the annual returns - for peace of mind.
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Thanks for all the responses. Actually, I've been listed as POA in a trust that was set up a few years ago when my Dad was still in control of things. My mom had dementia and isn't concerned at all about money and my dad is just run down from battling with shingles and then a bad fall. About a week ago, they went into assisted living and I was spending money on a few things like Depends for my mom, some clothes, things they needed for their room, etc. The bank has a copy of the POA and checks have my dad's and my name on them.

Things seem to be settling down now. My dad has his checkbook back and I do have a few expenses that I'll ask him for reimbursement on, but nothing major. I've kept him informed of everything and I know he is not worried about being taken advantage of.

I'm also fortunate that my two brothers are very trustworthy. I'm shocked at some of the things I read about siblings and other family members. One of my brothers isn't all that helpful, but if I ask for something specific, he'll help out. The other brother has been wonderful.

My husband has done a great job of handling my parents' finances, making sure they have the right kinds of insurance and other investments to keep them in assisted living or a nursing home if they need that.

It's been stressful, but I have to say that I feel extremely fortunate to have such a supportive family, including my parents.
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Having a debit card from their account is what I use for their purchases or any purchases we make for the parent. It is really important not to confuse accounting by random charges from your accounts verses the parents. Making notations about each purchase may prove helpful if other siblings or government audits come along. Not having to keep up with reimbursements also takes alot of the stress load off the care-giver.
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In response to parent expenses. I take care of my mother's finances. In addition to her ow n checking account and a debit card, I keep a spending journal. I also have a cash receipt booklet for cash given. Also, I have been told by an attorney that you can charge a "rent" but YOU must include that as income in your tax returns.
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@REVERSE Where can i find a caregivers contract or examples and more info on this?. I accept moneys for groceries,medicine, her other shopping needs etc . I dont want it to be confused with it being a salary (to IRS) Contract might help my worry....
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Their daughter, I would get to a lawyer because you are liable for any money not used directly for the parent, but then again, SS allows you to take rent. Do they live with you and need fulltime care? If so, make out a caregivers contract, its legal and a way to spend down.
Igloo, do you know if the Aide and Attendence VA money is considered with medicaid? Its a reinbursement actually, not an income. My Mom is over but a small amount due to her A&A and we do not get any help...
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I added myself to my moms account. (with her permision of course) I do all the banking on line and all the shopping, doctors etc. with a debit card thatnis in both our names. She still thinks i pat the caregiver 10$ a day... but that another story for another day. Doing the banking and bill apying online and using the debit card helps me keep track of everything easily. Good Luck to you..
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THANK YOU FOR THE MEDICAID INFO. WE ARE HEADING IN THAT DIRECTION FOR MY MOTHER.
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If you do the cc and if you could possible be concerned with them running up their debt, you want to make sure that you do not sign off or are considered financially responsible for the cc account. My MIL was a bit of a financial terrorist and the debt collectors will track down family, even if you are not responsible. Total pia.

Pixie - Here's my NH Medicaid take after doing it. This will be long, so get coffee or an adult beverage...

NH (aka skilled nursing facility/SNF or long term care/LTC) is paid for 3 ways:
1) private pay by either the elder or their family; 2) from LTC insurance; or 3) by qualifying for Medicaid.

Medicaid rules are determined by each state & are state specific even though it is a federal & state program. Medicaid is needs-based. Because it's needs based,
you are expected to spend your assets first and foremost before the state will pay. There are things you can do to reduce assets but these need to be done by someone qualified to do this that will pass your state's review. An certified elder law attorney is best. My experience is that if they live long enough, they will flat just run out of $ eventually and family will flat run out of being able to provide the level of care needed eventually. Hopefully the time can dovetail.

For NH Medicaid eligibility, an individual must show that:
1) are 65+ (can be younger if qualified disability),
2) medical condition requires a skilled level of nursing care,
3) monthly income at or below their states max (about 2K),
This is the “income test”– how much $ do you make. TX is $2,094.
4) all countable assets are at or below 2K
This is the “asset test” – how much $ do you own.
5) not gifted away anything of value during 5yr look-back period.

If you do, could be a “transfer penalty” when items are gifted. Transfer Penalty different for each state as it’s based on each state’s NH reimbursement rate. For Texas, it is $ 142.92 a day rate (2011), which is a low rate.

Look-back is 5 yrs. Most states require 3 – 6 mo. of financials with initial Medicaid application. Can require more financials if something pique’s interest. Financials are bank statements, social security and retirement statements, insurance policies, etc. For my mom, I had to have a letter from her bank as to the disposition of each and every account (CD, savings, money market, etc) closed for the 3 years prior to her application. Luckily I had her down to a single bank so it was simple but still took having a relationship with a banker to have it go smoothly. If they have multiple banks or accounts, I'd highly suggest to consolidate down to 1 which you are POD and have on-line access to.

INCOME: If it is that every month they are over the states income limit BUT not enough to pay in full for the NH and qualifies for NH in every other way, then they can see an elder care attorney to do a "Miller Trust" or a "Qualified Income Trust". Say mom gets 1K from SS & 1,500K from retirement every mo. Income=$2,500. Basically $ 500 over ceiling for monthly income. No matter what is always is $500 over. So this excess $ 500 is what funds the trust and therefore mom’s income is now 2K and within the states income ceiling for Medicaid. The beneficiary of the trust is state's Medicaid program and upon death reverts to the state. Miller really has to be done by an attorney who does elder law as it needs to be flexible &adaptable & meet the criteria of state's law on probate (death laws) & Medicaid.

ASSETS: All assets are counted, unless the assets fall within the short list of "noncountable" assets:
- personal possessions,
- a vehicle (some states have a limit on the value)
- their principal residence, provided it is in the same state in which the individual is applying for coverage & the house kept with no equity limit if the "community spouse" lives there; otherwise the equity limit is 500K (750K in some states)
- prepaid funeral & burial (irrevocable, NCV, usually 10K max)
- small amount of life insurance (usually $1,500 & NCV)
All other assets (savings, stocks, whole life, rental property) are counted.Must “spend down” to get to their states max to qualify.

The financials are what most folks focus on. But remember that they also need to medically qualify for skilled nursing care. There are appeals process available for both financial (which you do) and medical (which the NH, their MD's etc do but you have to sign off on). When you apply for Medicaid, you really sign off for an all access pass (without the souvenir laminated lanyard) to your parents financials and info is really just keystrokes away.
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If your parents have a credit card with a sufficient credit limit, try putting yourself on their account as POA. I did that and requested a card, and I use her credit card to pay and then just pay the bill from the checking account. If not, maybe setting up online banking for their checking account would be helpful.

Personally (and this may be the former banker in me), I wouldn't be using my own credit card to pay expenses, I would want complete transparency and complete separation between my finances and my mother's. I wouldn't ever want to have to prove to someone that I reimbursed myself properly.

I don't have siblings or anyone else who would question me, necessarily, but my mother gets altered from time-to-time, and then gives me a hard time about my taking her monthly income checks (which I do so they don't disappear into a "black hole" somewhere in the house, and so they actually get deposited where they belong). I have visions that she'll call the lawyer one day and tell him that I'm "fleecing" her (she's called the cops on my twice now, saying I'm an intruder), and I want to avoid a drawn-out accounting of what I've done with her money.

I know the parallel isn't exact, but similar situation could arise for you as well somewhere down the road, which is why I suggest you not use your own credit card and then reimburse yourself.

Just my 2 cents' worth. Your mileage may vary. :-)
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