As we get all of Mom's affairs in order, the topic was raised how to split her estate when she passes. Siblings that do nothing want an equal share while the main caregiver would rather base it on the amount of participation with Mom's care. How do we have an equitable talk w/o arguing or hating one another? It seems a bit selfish to split evenly when the majority of her care is primarily w/one child. (Our Elder Law Atty says it's up to us to agree so no real help there.) Thank to everyone that answers or offers input.

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Let's just put it this way.... I've been caring for my mom alone for over a decade. If I did have siblings that did absolutely nothing in all that time to help me with our mother, I'd fight tooth and nail to deny my siblings a stinking thing. They didn't do the work, that should have been everyone's, so they don't get paid. Nice and simple.

I agree with the primary care giver. They get what they get based on what they've done and contributed. They haven't done anything? They don't get anything. I know full well what kind of work and brutal hours goes into taking care of the elderly. That primary care giver, as far as I'm concerned, deserves it all...or damn sure most of it.
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Divide it equally and get on with your life. Caregiving isn't a contest to determine the winner in an estate lottery. Good luck!
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In the tale, the little red hen finds a grain of wheat, and asks for help from the other farmyard animals to plant it, but none of them volunteer.

At each later stage (harvest, threshing, milling the wheat into flour, and baking the flour into bread), the hen again asks for help from the other animals, but again she gets no assistance.

Finally, the hen has completed her task, and asks who will help her eat the bread. This time, all the previous non-participants eagerly volunteer. But she declines their help, stating that no one aided her in the preparation work, and eats it with her chicks, leaving none for anyone else.

The moral of this story is that those who show no willingness to contribute to a product do not deserve to enjoy the product: "if any man will not work, never let him eat."

Yup. Love that story. Nice and simple, isn't it?
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Rachal - really mom needs to clearly state who gets what and how and have the update done as a codicil to her will. She isn't dead so all this has to be by her specific determination.

If the POA is not benefitting from the estate, sometime they can draw up the codicil for mom to sign off on & have notarized. But that really should be a legal determination if it is feasible for your mom's cognitive ability. I'm my mom's executrix but I do not at all benefit from her estate as a person inheriting from her, so this takes me out of anyone claiming I am doing it for me. If whomever is indicated as executor is like my situation, they can really hard-ball on administering the estate.

This is likely going to be ugly and ill will for years to come. There are still people pi$$ed off about my aunts estate I was executrix for and that was 2 decades ago.

Perchance, who in this group is indicated as executor / executrix of mom's estate? They as administrator have a good bit of determining value on mom's estate. If there are a couple of family (or more likely those who married into the family) who are making all the noise on $, the executor can really s....l.....o....w down the probate process.For my executrix terms (2 different aunts), 1 I ran out to the full 4 years allowed and that gives you a ton of time to either wear folks down or negotiate. You can pay to have licensed appraisals done on things, a forensic accountant to review all banking and other costs, all kinds of things that will cost, time & money.

BTW if sibling who has done the caregiving wanted to, they can file a claim against the estate for their costs to caregiving. Now they probably can;t successful file to get paid for their time (that is usually viewed as done as a familial duty & for free) but they can file for mileage at the federal rate, parking costs, and for anything they paid for to others (like a cleaning lady or yard guy or a sitter). All that would be likely a class 1 claim against the estate in probate court and paid first & foremost before the rest is divvied out. Probate judges are pretty good about recognizing who in the family did the work and will try to compensate them for their expenses. BUT you have to file a claim with documentation to get this done.
good luck.
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I am one of three heirs to my mother's will, executor to her will and have durable power of attorney. Her assets will be used for her care first and if there is anything left over after her passing, to the heirs. My mother wants to move in with me when she can no longer live independently to preserve her assets for her estate and heirs to inherit. Not going to happen. I would rather inherit nothing than take on all the responsibility as a caregiver for others to benefit and do nothing.
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If only those of us who did all the work got the rewards. Unfortunately, life is not like that. At least mine sure isn't! When you think about all the time, effort and frustration you put up with it certainly feels like you should get some compensation for it. After all, you do something most people have to pay someone else (i.e. an aide) to do. So if that's what happens I think it's completely fair. Just because you do the work not expecting to be paid doesn't mean you don't deserve it when it comes down to it.
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I'm in the same crowded boat with you, Debralee. Mom is now in AL, but I handle her finances, keep her in Depends, tissues, soap, etc. and do her laundry. My brother, who has not even spoken to mom in over six years, will inherit half of her estate. The estate would be much larger if I had mom living with me, but that is not going to happen with her dementia. I would become homebound while my brother golfs and travels. Why would I do that to increase his inheritance? My POA prohibits me from being paid as her agent, but I do reimburse myself for expenses, and I am seriously considering paying myself for the laundry service at the same rate the AL facility charges.
Helpful Answer (5)

Castle, you raise a lot of interesting and valid points. I'd like to respond to some, not to challenge but rather to point out a different perspective, which also needs to be considered in the whole scope of caregiving.

1. Attorneys generally do participate in continuing ed, although it's been awhile since I was knowledgeable on the requirements. Law firms for which I worked had continuing ed lunch programs for attorneys and paralegals. I also attended reasonably priced programs in my particular practice area. Some firms also provide community education programs for the general public, and publish newsletters on related practice area topics as well.

Attorneys and other professionals focus on the legal aspects with knowledge of ancillary issues. It's not always realistic for them to provide advice, at an attorney's billable rate, for something that can be researched by individuals. Legal advice cannot, though; it requires the benefit of legal education.

2. The need for care can often arise suddenly, before a family has had a chance to plan financially. And some families will never have the resources to plan regardless of how long a look-forward period exists. The funds just aren't there and never will be.

3. Many families or single children need to support themselves. Some of us here are in that situation. The option of quitting work to care for someone full time is not realistic.

4. The concept of sharing progress, etc. with other siblings is laudable, but if you spend some time to read some of the posts on family friction, especially between siblings, as well as factor in the knowledge that some siblings may be providing care entirely on their own w/o any other sibling or outside help, it will become apparent that some of us neither have the time for reporting, nor are other siblings always interested in that level of information. Let me ask also why I should bother to maintain reporting standards and activities to provide to someone who is not going to help? Frankly, that's a waste of my time.

5. You stated:

"Many adult children would be glad to help out, put in their bit, from time to time - or they believe they would do so, even if they may find it hard in reality to allocate time when needed for the care situation."

I would have to view that as a laudable but inaccurate assumption. Many siblings in fact do not want to participate, and won't.

6. You also wrote:

"So, it can seems to work out sometimes that a nearby child can benefit from putting on an addition to their home where mom can live and be close to family."

Where, pray tell, are these adult children going to get the money to add to their homes? I subsist on SS alone and can't even afford to buy a new car, let alone put an addition on my house. That particular suggestion really doesn't reflect a reality for many of us.

And that doesn't even address zoning and permitting issues, including whether or not there's even room on the lot to add an addition.

7. Another suggestion of yours makes me scratch my head and wonder:

"The needs here are those of the elder, not the child - some overlap may be good for both, but the benefits to the frail person need to be reported regularly, maybe monthly reports - maybe validated by community people - now we can track lots online, format reports and see they are shared with all other involved parties."

The needs are not JUST of the elder, they're of both! I'm not a martyr, and neither is anyone I know who's caring for a parent or parents.

We caregivers are still humans and have our needs, including maintaining our own health so that we can care for our parents. I honestly can't believe anyone could conceive something so naïve.

And reports, monthly posted online? For what purpose? Are you unaware of how personal information is commoditized these days? Are you unaware of privacy issues? I can't imagine even considering posting updates on my parent's care on some online reporting site available to "community" or whatever.

I could add more but I'm not sure there's a reason to. Although you seem to have experienced the sole caregiver phenomenon yourself, I can't help thinking that your approach is very academic, as if viewing the caregiving situation from a perspective not of those people on the ground and in the trenches doing the majority of the caregiving without help from siblings.

My point is not specifically to criticize, but rather to help bring the suggestions you make to a meeting with reality, with practicality, and especially of the recognition that these caregiving journeys are often sole ventures, completely without support from siblings, regardless of how much we might try or even plead for that kind of help, as well as the fact that a lot of your suggestions seem like governmental approaches - create more paperwork, more interface, more reporting, etc., but how does this REALLY help the elder and his/her caregiver?

Again, I'm not trying to challenge you, just point out some need for realism. You obviously are a good analyst and can see the situation from an analytical perspective. Blend the suggestions with practical applications and you can write your book then.
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my sister who couldnt even get along with my mother and certainly never done anything to help her showed up at the reading of the will with an old appraisal that proclaimed moms home and property to be worth 80 k and she wanted a third of that amount. freakin idiot. the attorney told her the property was only worth what someone would be willing to pay for it. it was a 25 year old modular that a bank would never lend on. the atty permitted older sister to take immediate occupancy so the place wouldnt sit empty " mouth " got 9 k just to shut her up and my ass went home. its just interesting that the kid who done the least was the most combative.
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Just keep on fighting , and the whole thing will go to probate, there will be court fees and the judge will take a long time to carve it up into equal slices for each child. That is, if there is anything left after all the bills are paid. If I was the mother I would solve the problem by giving it all to a charity; end of fight.
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