Should I accept my Aunt's offer of financial assistance for my Mom and continue a family pattern of dysfunction?

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My parents spent their lives relying on my aunt and grandparents for financial support, due to their own irresponsibility. My siblings and I have become very resistant to asking family for any financial help as a result. When my father died and my mother had a heart attack and stroke and lost her job and the house, we moved Mom in with us. I wanted to do the right thing, help her make responsible choices. Save up for burial expenses, pay off debts, stick to a budget. And stop asking family, expecting family – especially my aunt and grandfather – to continue paying for her. Living with us and being even a little disciplined, she could do all this. She’s paid off a lot of the debt and saved a little money, while still also paying for her own extras (hair, phone, gifts, eating out.)

My grandfather sometimes said he’d like to help Mom move to a retirement community but I didn’t feel it was right to let him do this. He needs to provide for his own aging needs. Mom could afford the current situation living with me. My aunt has now made an offer I can’t refuse, to help pay 1/3 of the monthly fee for Mom to move to assisted living. She will be repaid when the retroactive VA benefit is approved, probably in about a year.

I feel like I’ve failed in stopping the dysfunctional pattern my mom and her family lived for 60 odd years, of them taking care of things when my parents got in over their heads over and over. And now I’m afraid I’ll be in the position of asking my aunt for money on behalf of Mom. Then I tell myself I am being too sensitive and to accept this gift. I did not ask for my aunt to pay, she offered. But in thinking of how this might work, I’m worried I WILL be put in the position of asking for help for her. Because we cannot pay for anything if Mom goes to AL. And Mom doesn't really handle her finances, I do. And I have DPOA now, too.

Is there a way to keep this as accepting my aunt's offer and not continuing their pattern? Should I put something in writing? If extra AL related expenses come up, I can't afford to cover them.

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Yes, to clarify, when a widow/widower applies to the VA for aid and attendance benefit, the claim takes 9 to 12 months to be approved. And since they apply because they are in need, I guess, when the VA approves the claim, they then pay the widow the money retroactively, or as if it was approved the month the application was submitted and not starting the 9 or 12 months after the application was made. Odd, I know.

After sleeping on it, I'm still leaning towards something in writing and having it be between Mom and her sister, not me.
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OK, based on your latest comments, I would try to get a document in place that says it's a loan and put your mom in AL. Worst case is you get a 1-year break if it's denied, you move her back in with you and your husband, and you owe your aunt/granddad money. But will you get money refunded if the VA claim is approved? That sounds unusual to me, but I have no experience with these things. That's the only way you could repay a loan. So I say, go for it. There's no reason you and your husband should pay for your mom's earlier bad behavior. If her family (sis and dad) still want to help and support her, let them in this case.
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It is difficult having Mom in our small house all the time. Her impaired vision keeps her from going places unless I take her. My husband and I rarely get time alone and never at home. So the idea of her being somewhere safe and getting socialization is very appealing. She is a little bit of a drain on us fiancially, too, since I take her out to eat (more than I would go by myself - she pays for hers, I pay for mine) and our utilties are higher than if she weren't here.

I think the offer is made with no strings attached and from the heart.

It is true that without the VA benefit, Mom cannot afford AL on her own. And we cannot contribute to her financially at AL. Technically, my aunt will be "loaning" the money to Mom since the benefit will be paid retroactive to the month the application is submitted. Maybe I can have something in writing that clarifies that this is a loan between them. The more I think about it, the better that idea sounds.

I've been meaing to submit the VA claim for Mom and THEN move her to AL, but I was worried the claim would be denied. And it takes a year and I'm not sure hubby will be able to take the situation much longer. The AL place can guarantee the claim will be accepted (something I take with a grain of salt) but it makes me hopeful.
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cmc, you have worked so hard to wean her off all these dependencies, don't undo all you have taught her. Wait for the VA to come through, you'll be glad you did. I just think these 'helpful' relatives are trying to suck you in so they can Lord it over you later. Uh-uh. I wouldn't let them own me. Not now, not ever.
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How is it working out with mom living with you? You don't mention any problems with that right now...but there must be something going on to want to consider moving mom to AL. Does the help from your aunt and grandfather come with 'strings' attached (either actual or emotional) or is it offered freely and from the heart? What does your mom think about moving to AL?

I'm pretty independent, so it would be hard for me (like it is for you) to set up a situation where I have to beg for money from relatives, particularly if it is because of personal irresponsibility. So I would lean towards finding a solution (if things aren't working out now) that doesn't require more money from aunt/grandfather.

Whatever you decide, you sound like an awesome daughter who has got the right values about money and savings...
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If I read the above correctly, it does not sound like you can afford to pay part of AL with the gift from the aunt for your mother to go to AL. I don't think that I'd take the gift, but look into your mother possibly qualifying for medicaid when she reaches the point of needing a nursing home.
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