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For caregivers, are their activities for my mom protected by HIPPA or other privacy laws? my mother (passed away in June) had 2 occasional caregivers, independent contractors, and they did awesome work for my mom. Now, when going over last year or so of mom's transactions, in order to prepare an accounting for my 4 siblings, how much detail do I include about these caregivers? Isn't it an invasion of privacy for me to share information about the caregivers, how much they were paid per hour.....would it be sufficient for me to just give a total amount per month? And skip the details. Just have a "caregiving" category and not put down every day of the week they were there or what they did. It would take me forever to go over their time sheets for that much detail!

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Mallory, I'm so glad that my tip about the privacy clause helped you. This forum can be amazing. Sadly, when it would have benefited me most with parents I didn't know about it. But I'm glad to pay it forward for others. You sound like an amazing person. Cherish those memories. I'm almost 5 years past losing my Mom and it's like yesterday. Sadly, still getting phone calls time to time from creditors, etc that were settled but they didn't record things etc in their records or actually close the accounts and have since tacked on crazy charges. So hold onto those binders and keep a record of who you've sent what to when. A scanner capable of double-sided scanning may be worth looking into. I have one the size of a small toaster. A bit pricey but makes fast work of reducing paper files into searchable digital documents without taking space, and it is an acceptable expense as the executor. Take care. Thanks for sharing your memories too. It sounds like you did very good by her.
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Feeling good here, I made a deal with Thurs nite football, if Denver wins then I will too. ..of course it went to OT. Well I am not THAT superstitious. Anyhow it will be, what it will be...even if the superstar law office does find some moss on the side of some stone they overturn, NOTHING will ever take away the precious memories of.my mom, taking her to Mass, being there with her for every Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, and birthdays all over, and most of all, when she was in hospital and they discovered her deadly condition, I was right next to her holding her hand, and she was so scared, and begged me to not leave her side, ever. And I didn't. It was tough. But her love sustained me, and I sang hymns to her, and read her favorite Bible verses and had priest come in and was their with her anointing. All of this is just human side of things, trying to understand the Great Unknown. But I did my best, for my mom. ANYTHING that happens now, will be a speck of dust on the great golden glow of her immense memory within my heart. Her birthday is coming up...will be difficult, we will have a cake in her memory.
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Mallory, I hope you didn't think I was prying. I wasn't. Any questions I asked were to try to flush out the scope of the issues and answer appropriately.

I can't imagine what the sibs are attempting to accomplish either, unless it's just plain harassment.

I don't think they have any direct recourse to caregivers anyway. Maybe they're trying to figure out how much you spent on caregivers.

Anyway, you have a lot on your plate so try not to let any potential anxiety over what they might do hover over you like a storm cloud.
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GardenA, I totally appreciate your thoughts, and since I know there is absolutely nothing wrong with the amazing caregivers she had, or my care over mom or her affairs, I have to admit I'm completely baffled why they chose to spend the money to hire this lawyer? Perhaps there is something I don't know about. And that thought makes me nervous. But not nervous enough to just go blabbing off all sorts of private info...I am not that stupid!
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Mallory, a "slick" lawyer would also likely require a retainer from your sibs and charge on an hourly rate plus costs. They would have to pay out of pocket just to get the suit filed Any complaint would seek compensation and reimbursement from the estate, but that wouldn't happen unless a settlement occurred or the case was taken to trial after all mediation and solution efforts failed.

The other alternative is that a "slick" lawyer could harass you just to frighten and manipulate you into settling and offering something to the sibs. Since there's no insurance and no guaranteed representation, these tactics are low balling and nasty.

But you could always hire an attorney and countersue, throwing the ball back in their court and beat them at their own game.

I doubt if any reasonable attorney would even consider a case like this on a contingency basis though, as personal injury and products liability cases were handled when I worked in that practice area decades ago. Contingency cases have to have a good likelihood of liability, and are more lucrative when there's a deep pockets insurance company involved, not a "shallow pockets" estate or its Personal Representative.
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Oh, thank you, thank you, I read the agency contract info and it has a privacy clause. There is also no probate of this estate since everything was in the trust or beneficiaries, and under the dollar amount threshold for anything else. Unless the sibs file some type of court case against me, but I don't think there is anything they could charge me with committing. There's just nothing at all I have done, or left undone, that is wrong, I've been just so involved with taking care of her in any way I could. But I suppose some slick lawyer could invent something, who knows, and that's why they want the caregiver records.
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Just watch out that if you signed a contract with an agency or the caregivers directly there may be a privacy clause that you won't directly disclose personal information about their employees. Since probate is public record, be sure to consult the probate requirements and the estate attorney as your guide.
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It would be interesting though if they did try to contact the caregivers, who might consider getting PPOs against the sibs for harassment. The caregivers' employment agency might also consider similar action if the sibs pester them for information to which they're not entitled.
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Also, sibs have no right to personal information of the caregivers such as their addresses. That's absolutely way out of line.
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Mallory, it just occurred to me that you could just give the names of the caregiving agencies but not the extensive detail the sibs want. If they call the agencies, more than likely they won't get any data either, as agencies are going to protect their staff's privacy, regardless of HIPAA laws.

The VNA of Michigan gave its staff cell phones to use rather than their own cell phones, although some of them did. By using phones titled in the agency's name, it avoided the issue of individual staff's names and personal cell phones becoming available to patients.

If your concern is that sibs would contact the caregivers and ask prying questions about the situation with your mother, what care they gave, etc., they would most likely be prohibited by agency rules of privacy, notwithstanding HIPAA, from discussing any kind of personal issues that as these.

Legal personnel are under similar restrictions. We were advised never to discuss client issues outside of the firm, and sometimes there was even a "Chinese wall" created to protect a particular client's issues from discussion with anyone but the attorneys, paralegals and secretaries working on that particular case.
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Hippa covers the patient for medical info. Doesn't protect the privacy of those giving care. As an employer their may be laws protecting the employees personnel info.
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Sendme2help, YES, that is exactly what I was trying to ask in my original question. the sibs are wanting to have times sheets, rates of pay, names, phones, addresses of the 3 caregivers mom had. Well 4 if you include one agency one from a couple years ago. Plus they have a bunch of other really strange questions, which seem like they are really just "digging" and trying to build a case.....but, do they really think they're going to "find something"....there is nothing to hide, but on the other hand, the caregivers are long gone and they don't want to be getting phone calls or prying letters, so I belive the HIPPA laws would mean, their interactions with my mom are private, just like a nurse or doctor. But maybe caregivers are not considered a medical professional?
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What I think she meant is, doees Hippa pretain to her if she needs to give out caregivers emlpoyment history. The answer is no. Hippa only covers Medical information. She, as an emplorer, can give ours worked and hourly pay. Don't think she needs to give name, phone, or address. Can be cargiver 1,2 and 3.
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Mallory, it was chessafro who asked: Brother is demanding any and all documents...search for that thread. Brother never picked up the documents at the post office!
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Mallory, so sorry you are having to go through this. What I hate is the fact that it will be difficult to keep legal fees down. It may be in the back of your mind, but be aware now that when their attorney calls your attorney, there is a fee to you or the estate. Those fees come out of yours and siblings inheritance. Ask your attorney to not receive phone calls, have others put in writing their inquiries addressed to him. Be aware, that in a legal dispute, the prevailing party is awarded attorney's fees. Seems silly is right! Any dispute will lead to each of heirs to receive less.
Fortunately, the executor's or trustees legal fees will be covered, but again, from the proceeds of the estate. This could take a year, or more, with the attorneys draining the estate. There is a formula, not sure, but attorneys get 1/3rd?
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HIPPA LAWS. These are laws covering confidentiality of the patient. Included in that would be any caregivers who would be bound by HIPPA LAWS not to disclose to others the care of the patient, the diagnosis, or even the hours they provided care. Taking that further, a paid caregiver would be required to keep confidential the fact that they even gave care to any specific patient. You would be right not to disclose their contact info or names. Not all caregivers would understand this privacy law, but none the less are bound by it. A legal action, supena might change this requirement, but you would need an attorney's advice or a court order demanding the information. Is that close to what you were asking?
When you said are caregivers 'covered' by hippa laws, did you maybe mean, are caregivers 'bound' by hippa laws?
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Mallory, you need not allow siblings to use you to express their guilt and grief by making demands on you. That expectation is the same as defaulting on any care for mom while she was alive. You just don't need the added grief. Put them off, and notify them that any legal or copy fees will come out of their portion of the estate.
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Mallory, there was another question answered covering reporting to siblings. Maybe someone can remember it. Do not be irresponsible, but what exactly are the laws concerning 'reporting to siblings? What is the worst thing that can happen if you do nothing?
If it were me, and I was as burnt out after all of this as you might be, I would:
Give them the name of an attorney to contact for the information they are seeking, be sure they know any contact will be at their own expense. Provide the info to only the attorney, and only what the attorney asks for.
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I would state the number of hours/earnings on labor performed on a monthly basis or a quarterly if your mom needed care over a prolonged period of time. Whether you break it down by the hour, day, week, month, or quarterly it is the same outcome for everybody. Creditors will be paid first. The estate will pay/save funds for ongoing needs - insurance, maintenance or taxes. Send a very brief letter that simply states your first obligation is to creditors. Attach a copy of the priority of debt payment/collections that you must abide by. No matter how the state's probate laws prioritize the payment of all debts, the personal heirs are always at the bottom of the list. Refer them back to the list when they ask again. I would tell them I've sent the list so we can all be working off the same page, so to speak. When all creditors are paid according to law, then siblings will get paid.
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just checked my credit rating is 825, spouse is 826.....good!
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I didn't have time to think about that when I had to quickly leave my home and move in with my mother 400 miles away. I just provided caregiving for her, no HIPPA.
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Mallory, very sorry for your loss and situation with siblings. I encourage you don't underestimate expenses of selling the home/wrapping up the estate. We needed an attorney above/beyond having the executor assigned just to list my FILs (depends on state) with a realtor and need to wait months to sell it (his state allows time for a will to be contested), and expect extra closing costs. Ongoing utilities, property taxes (ouch), prep, and perhaps buyer requirements (new AC, roof repair, pest abatement) after home inspections. Realtors want to keep the furniture in for showing, then clear out asap after sale. Surprising how much it can cost to clean a property out and what things can't be donated (mattresses, bed frames, electronics) but actually cost money to dispose of. Our sibs were all told no disbursements until property sold and we'd been paid back what we spent (funerals, etc). Some more understanding than others, but none willing to step up to the huge task. That's why executors can be paid from the estate. Not easy fun stuff. You sound like us with your binders. Good thinking ahead. We also received medical bills/hospitals from all 3 parents more than a year later that we thought had been covered but took that long through the insurance/medicare process. Caution on challenging them to come out. as they could try to claim that travel as an estate expense, and I doubt you want to hand over your binders or be in the same room. If attorneys are involved that's a shame. A lot can be quickly whittled to nothing. Agree, caution they may challenge you as executor so move expediently on the estate and home sale, and always professionally (sounds like you do) but just as a reminder (no matter how much you want to say option B). HIPAA covers your mother from a caregiver releasing information about her including any info on what kind of care/treatment. A doctor shouldn't come to a waiting room to talk to you, and Pharmacists are required to make other people in line to stand back when doing a consultation with you. Hope that helps/makes sense.
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Need to make clearer. Hippa doesn't cover caregivers privacy when it comes to info on salary, address, or phone. But, they should not be giving out info on patients. Who they care for is private but...not sure if they have to abide by Hippa if priavately hired. Now if they work for an agency, different thing.
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Mallory, another thought...check the Will to see if it addresses litigation challenging the Personal Representative (a/k/a Executrix/Executor in some states) 's actions in administering the Estate. The sibs may think there's loads of money and they'll get reimbursed for their fact finding quest.

This is a good reason for an in terrorem clause.

That raises another issue - the sibs may not have grounds to challenge your mother's will, so they may try to challenge your administration of her estate, trying to make an issue out of your handling of it rather than your mother's disposition intents.

There's usually a clause in the Will addressing culpability of the PR and providing some protection. Wouldn't hurt to read it and run it by your attorney.
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Mallory, I wasn't aware the sibs had hired an attorney. Was this recently, such as in the last few months, or have they had this attorney for some time? Are they communicating directly with your attorney? You can demand that if you choose to do so. Their attorney, if he/she's a type that tries to intimidate, won't be as successful harassing or trying to intimidate another attorney than an individual, especially one who's already overloaded with handling and wrapping up an estate.

Have the data requests been from the sibs, or from their attorney? This could make a big difference in predicting what actions they might take.

Igloo makes good points about getting credit reports to ensure there are no red flags (not intending to insult you, but there are mistakes on credit reports. I find some every time I get mine). You might also consider putting a 90 day fraud alert on; it stops all but legitimate creditors from getting a report. Since sibling's attorneys aren't legitimate creditors, I don't think sibs or their attorney would have a legitimate right to your credit reports.

And just an FYI - when a potential litigation might be on the horizon, don't speak with the sibs via phone calls; do it via e-mail or snail mail so it can be documented, and do document all contact with them. I have a suspicion that's what they're doing.

And don't for a moment think that kind of manipulation is beyond an attorney, especially one in solo practice or in a small law firm.

I don't think I mentioned this earlier, but your time and costs to produce the documents they want are legitimate estate charges.

As I recall, you've already copied what you're going to send them. In the future, if you can scan the data in, then send it by e-mail (read receipt requested) to keep down the transit costs, you can also tell them that every one of their requests is going to reduce the net amount available in the estate.

Igloo's insights are always good. From your posts, you seem to be meticulous in detailing everything, so that's an excellent foundation if you need to defend your actions.

And even though it can be costly, I think you'd be wise to continue to get your attorney's opinion at different stages of your estate administration. On the other hand, it doesn't hurt to be prepared, as you have been.

Do you know the name of the sibs' attorney? It's easy to check him or her out and determine what the practice area is. If you don't want to share it publicly, PM me and I'll see what I can find out for you. I've found that solo attorneys can sometimes have a "little dog syndrome" - they don't have as many clients, and sometimes need to puff about a bit and do extra work to compensate for that fact. Attorneys in larger firms are billiably driven but usually are overloaded with cases, so they don't become involved in unnecessary or frivolous litigation. It will help to know what their attorney's background is.
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Hippa is for the patient's privacy not the caregivers. It is only in place so a facility doesn't give out private info. Thats whyu sign paperwork that you r allowing your doctor to send info to another doctor or facility or insurance. If a MPOA is in place that person is privy to patients info and can talk to doctors. If patient is in their right mind they can allow others to talk to doctors. I have MPOA but Mom always lists my daughter (RN) and brothers. I keep y brothers in the loop about my Moms care. You can discuss ur parents medical with anyone.
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Mallory - so your sibs have hired their own lawyer? To me this is a flashing red light in the distance.!.!.!."Danger Will Robinson! Danger!"

.Does your attorney - which I'm assuming is an estate & probate limited practice guy (so he's a specialist) - do litigation? I'd ask him ASAP if he does. If not, ask him who he turns over clients to if there is litigation. Most probate guys seem to me to be very formula oriented & dealing with claims and negotiating competing claims to settle an estate is within the purview of what they routinely do. But if other heirs are planning on challenging either validity of will or suitability of executor or decisions made by executor, well, that could mean litigation - which is going to be very time consuming & costly all around. Not all probate guys do litigation.

If there is anything in your background (& hubs or kids under your roof or dependency for that matter) that could be an issue for suitability, you could find yourself challenged as executor. I'd suggest you pull your & hubs current credit report from the big 3 to see if any recent requests of the report and by whom. If a law firm or PI firm show a pull, then your sibs legal is gathering info on your suitability.

What point are you in probate? Have you been appointed, will ruled valid & letters testamentary issued?
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Malloryg8r ~ First off, let me offer my condolences on the loss of your Mom. Please now take the time to refocus on you and take a "little breather" room before attempting all of this. It is quite obvious that the 4 "far out of state" siblings are only interested in what they THINK they deserve from your Mom's estate. YOU, as executor, are in charge. They have never helped you "one iota" as you state and while they will get a final disposition of your Mom's estate, I personally would not jump through any hoops providing such detailed information as they request. I mean, good grief, they wouldn't even help you with her funeral, for Heaven's sake!

Send them each an email telling them you are your Mom's executor of her estate and when it is settled, you will contact them with their "share" of what it left after appropriate deductions are taken after final expenses. Tell them it will take several months and up to a year before you "settle" everything. Remember, when you are preparing your Mom's house for sale, you will be paying for cleaning it, disposing of property, perhaps repainting the interior, getting a realtor, paying to list/sell the house. This can be a VERY lengthy process and your siblings need to be aware that "their share" will not be coming anytime in the near future. You have NO help from them and, frankly, will probably not get ANY help from them. Take your sweet time and don't rush it because of greedy sibs wanting their money. You should in no way be paying for your Mom's funeral out of your own personal funds. If you have done so, make sure you reimburse yourself.

You are a meticulous recordkeeper and I know you can handle this. If they balk, invite them to "fly in" from out of state to peruse your 16 binders worth of information. If they want copies of everything, make sure you remind them that THAT expense (of copying records) will be taken out of "their" shares. Ask them when they are planning to come out to help you for several weeks to "go through" the house and help you prepare it for sale? Tell them, "I need help scrubbing the floors and cleaning out the cupboards", etc. etc. I bet you will not hear one word from them about rushing to help you do this!

Sorry to sound cold, but again, they did not care to help you when Mom was alive, so do not feel one iota of guilt for not bending over backwards to cater to THEIR needs/inquiries.

They are far out of state. What are the odds that they will all come to town to hassle you about this? We read about greedy siblings time and time again on this forum. It's sad and pathetic. Again, YOU are in the driver's seat as Executor. Keep your records of all final expenses. If you need assistance, by all means hire the same attorney who prepared your Mom's will. Good luck and let us know how you fare.
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The law office is now saying that I do not need to provide copies of time sheets, checks or names of the caregivers, just a summary, which shows no marked change of mom's expenses. Of course when she became ill all these expenses disappeared but she had hospital & doctor bills. The.law officr suspects (as i do) the siblings are just going to ask for more and more information--which is very costly for them, since they have hired a lawyer-- so at a certain point they may become fatigued, when they find nothing. So yes, the short answer is I do have to provide "some" information, but the laws don't specify exactly the format or how many layers deep it has to be.
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Check with the IRS about how much information they need. It is free.
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