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I need some good, pragmatic advice.


Question: Can I justify using a loved one's money here and there to stay afloat?

When I tell my father who is a former businessman and tough nut to crack, that my ability to earn money is diminished due to the hours I spend managing his care/finances/homes, etc., I am met with a steely cold stare. All sibs are well off, I am not. I've been given complete control over all health care, finances, homes, everything. Unless I make an incredibly stupid mistake, he is not even close to ever outliving his money. Other than a sudden and unexpected burst of interest over the holidays, sibs haven't helped, and one was even open about showing up to hospital just before visiting hours were over, just to avoid spending time with him. One of my problems is this: this sounds pathetic, but I am afraid of them. They vacillate between resembling caring people, and corporate psychopaths. All of them, my dad included. Although I have a professional degree and am the most educated in the family, I earn the least amount of money. I have a solid, mediocre (at best) paying career. Most months, I am short on money due to various factors: appliance breaks down, basement floods, one of my adult children who struggles with depression needs gas and it's -25 outside. I could write a book on this topic alone. I should say that my dad offers from time to time to pay for an expense (i.e. appliance), and has offered for us to use his vacation home. I can't afford the shuttle to get from the damned airport, so haven't taken him up on it yet.

If I push the $ issue and openly ask for reimbursement on a regular basis, my very real concern is that he'll give this duty to my sib, who will definitely pass it off to the spouse, whom I don't trust. Would it be so wrong of me to pay for things here and there from his account? I am struggling with this. It doesn't seem ethical. This is a labor of love, but also I can see that I am being exploited, and am truly running on empty financially, and emotionally. One option is to say nothing, and move to a small apartment. Work my life around his, knowing that I will eventually be taken care of. I'm managing wealth, but cannot afford the #$%^! taxi from the airport.

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I know this isn't the answer you want, but what you are contemplating is theft. Legally and for your own self-respect, pick any other option.

It is up to your Dad. You cannot continue as you are, providing the support he expects of you, because it takes up too much of the time you need to earn your living. He's an intelligent man, this is a simple $ per hour calculation.

If he would rather cut his nose off to spite his face, and hand over these responsibilities to people who are less trustworthy, why is that a problem for you? Or, at least, more of a problem than being treated so disrespectfully and with such suspicion by people with no apparent understanding of their privileges?

I feel for the position you're in. It's painful for all sorts of reasons, not least that it lays bare that one is related to people who are basically snobs, which is depressing and exasperating.

But put your oxygen mask on first, don't forget. You are perfectly capable of living well and supporting yourself, just not of doing that AND, in effect, subsidising your father's care. Show him the figures and let him make his choice.
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Visit a certified elder care attorney and enter into a contract between you and Dad. It will define what your duties are and what he will pay you. If you take money otherwise, you will be open to investigation by adult protective services AND Medicaid, should he ever need those services. You deserve to be compensated, but do it the right way.
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You’re living in his home? You say you have complete control of his affairs.....Legally? POA? Or just verbal agreement......

Could you earn more money if not caring for Dad?

Others are correct, you can’t spend his money on yourself unless he approves. And I would get it in writing. Who knows what you may be accused of down the road.

BTW, I agree your situation isn’t fair but be smart.
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suzeeQ, I noticed on your profile that your Dad is living with you, is that correct? Be honest with Dad, tell him you need to get back in the work force full time in order to build up your own retirement, and to pay for the maintenance on your house.

If you are female, your Dad could be from that generation and mindset that women do all the caregiving, forget about working outside of the house.

I remember my Dad asking me to retire from my career.... I then asked him if he took early retirement to take care of his parents or my Mom's parents, I knew he would answer me "no". Then I also explained that I have always had a much lower salary then my male counterparts, thus I need to work many years longer to make up the difference.

Eventually I realized I was enabling my parents to continue on with their lifestyle while I had to change my own. I wasn't hands-on, but I was good with logistical things. And those were time consuming, while I tried to work full time.  Cutting back wasn't easy as my folks depended on me for the prior 6 years.  I didn't realize I could say "no".

As for Dad never outliving his money, don't count on that. I don't know how old is your Dad, my folks were in their 90's. It was a real eye opener when my Mom had to move to long-term-care at $12k per month and my Dad still living at his house needing 3 shifts of caregivers at $20k per month. Dad was paying out $32k per month. Thus, savings can slip through one's fingers pretty quick.
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Thank you for the sound advice. I very sincerely appreciate it.

In answer to your questions, yes, I work full time in a very time consuming and physically demanding career, plus I do consulting work on the side. It totals approximately 65 ish hours per week. That all sounds as though I should be raking in the dough, however, that's not the case. It's a steady, but not lucrative income. My dad was living with us, but now has gone to his home with 24/7 care. Managing his healthcare and finances takes me 15 ish hours/week.

Between all of that and my own little family, there is little time left for me. I sometimes feel as if I'm stretched so far that it physically hurts. That cannot be a good sign, and I very much want to avoid becoming ill myself.

Your comments inspired me to dig out the Durable POA. It was casually given to me awhile ago when I had a meeting with the attorney for another matter, unrelated to my dad. I had really only glanced at it as I was taking directives regarding how to handle all of this, verbally from my dad. He had mentioned that I should pay myself for handling things after his death, but he didn't say anything about reimbursement while he's living. There is a section, however, that states that his Attorney-in-Fact (AIF),' aka me, is...'in no event authorized or permitted to make any transfers pursuant to his/her estate, or creditors'. It also states that the AIF is 'entitled to reimbursement from his estate for all reasonable expenses incurred on his behalf, and that his AIF is also entitled to receive reasonable compensation for time spent acting as his AIF'... Given their lack of involvement or empathy they've displayed for either one of us or my children, I don't have a problem charging my siblings for handling things after his death, but it is all so off putting to charge my dad for helping him when he's ill and most needs it. This is something I don't want to face because of shame, fear, and guilt. I realize though that barring any sort of life change (i.e. selling my home and renting an apartment, changing my place of employment), that I don't currently have a choice. If prologue is postlogue, he'll offer less than what I need to make my life work. He really is ill, but somehow manages to dine at the country club on NYE while I'm having panic attacks paying his bills all evening. He dresses to the nines, while my boots are falling apart, and it really is -25. People LOVE him wherever he goes. I am becoming an unrecognizable shell of my former self. I keep thinking that this is all going to work itself out, but I don't think so.

I started logging the time I spent on managing his health/finances etc. a couple of months ago, as my siblings were acting as though this were no big deal, and I wanted to see why in the world I felt so exhausted and spent all the time. It was only then that I realized that between my career, and caring for my dad, I have close to 2 full time jobs, not including maintenance of my own life or time spent with my children. It now makes sense to me, however, I still feel weird about cutting a paycheck to myself for helping him out, and am not sure I have the fortitude to ask for what it'll take to make my life run a little smoother. I realize I actually have to start acting like an adult and standing up for myself. That I would put up with this is a problem I'm having with my relationship to myself. Ugh. Thank you for listening.
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Your Dad is even more intelligent than I had supposed.

You know why it is absolutely fine for you to claim reasonable compensation for the (considerable) time you spend doing this work for him conscientiously and reliably?

Because he said so, put it in writing, and signed it.

Figure out what a reasonable hourly fee is, write a standing memo stating your intention to accept compensation, and copy it with the relevant section of the DPOA document to anyone whose business it properly is.

Reasonable hourly fee - hard to settle on, I know; but I am betting that your first guess will be a wild underestimate. Find out the going local rate for accountants and bookkeepers. Compare these with your own typical hourly rate. Reach a compromise. Hold your head high.
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Thanks, Countrymouse. I appreciate your straight to the point style and sound advice. Really helpful.
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Thanks to all of you, actually. Great advice. Very helpful.
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