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My sister is conservator of my Mom's estate, I hold the POA for healthcare. I am also Mom's live in caregiver.The estate pays me room and board along with $1000,00 per month. I also receive $120.00 per week for respite, which is 10 hrs. My sister is refusing to give me a raise and more money for relief care money. My Mom has Parkinson's and after 4 years of caring for her it is becoming more difficult. With my bills I'm afraid that when Mom passes I will not have any money to be able to afford the move. I have 6 brothers and sisters, which none will help fill in. They have no clue as to her daily care and needs. My question is, Can I or do I need to petition the court for changes of my salary since my sister is refusing?

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Mm. I don't know what the going rate for live-in care is in your neighbourhood; but would you say that the total of what you receive, including everything such as room & board, the carer's payment and the respite allowance, is broadly equivalent? If not, that would be a good place to start negotiations from. In any case, if the allowances you are paid have been frozen since 2009, it is perfectly reasonable to request a review; STP's suggestion of an annual review and increment based on a contract looks like the way to go.

It sounds as if your sister's view is that a) we took out a reverse mortgage that would pay out $xxxxx to provide the budget for mother; b) we're going to stick to that budget; c) we're going to stick to that budget come hell or high water. If this is so, it would explain why she's point blank refusing to consider your position.

The arguments in favour of increasing the amount paid to you are: a) rising costs and prices, i.e. ordinary wage inflation; and b) the greater demands of your mother's health and welfare needs, seeing as higher levels of dependency cost more in the care market. If you can demonstrate to your sister that you are now being paid less than would be the going rate for a hypothetical live-in carer undertaking the same duties (again, don't forget that room & board have a dollar value), she is going to have to rethink the budget. After all, technically, if you were to vote with your feet and leave (not that you would) she'd be faced with buying care on the open market; and good luck to her if she thinks she can get it cheaper.

But I'm afraid that your natural worry about your own future after your mother passes away (and believe me, I'm in the same boat) are not your sister's/the estate's problem. I really sympathise. You're caring for your mother, and meanwhile, year after year, you're getting older but no closer to financial security: it's terrifying and you can feel completely trapped. But from the estate's point of view, that's up to you. If you think you can do better financially, go right ahead, is the way the estate sees it - and indeed has a duty to your mother to see it. The estate cannot allow your interests to override your mother's best interests.

I feel very hesitant here, because I'm in danger of entering a minefield, but of course the other person who is entitled to a say in this is your mother - IF SHE STILL HAS MENTAL CAPACITY. Don't get excited. Even if she is still able to have and express a coherent view as to what she wants to happen, it would be wholly wrong and unethical for you to apply any pressure to her to speak in your favour; even just asking her what she thinks could be seen as pressurising her. Don't do it. But what you could do, depending on how conscientious your sister is in her duties, is ask your sister to discuss it with her.

What is more important about the subject of your mother's wishes is to do with what her alternative care options would be if you weren't able to continue to care for her because of your need to improve your own financial position. It feels grotesque to put it like this, but the question ends up as "what is the monetary value of the emotional value your mother gains from having her daughter, instead of a stranger, living with her?"

I know, it's revolting. We live in a cynical world that knows "the price of everything and the value of nothing." But if you can't beat 'em…

What do you do with your respite care hours (besides breathe and sleep!)? Is there any way that you could use them to improve your income? I know you'd only get a living wage from 10 hours a week if you were a lawyer; but every little helps.

Sadly for me I am not a lawyer, but I imagine you would be able to petition the court, and if the figures back you up I also imagine you would have some success. But I wouldn't go there until you absolutely have to, and only then on sound legal advice. First of all get your numbers down on paper and petition your sister, in terms she'll have to address with proper attention. Good luck - and don't get mad, get paid. x
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Can you make contract with your sister and upgrate every year?
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For Mom to stay at home it is costing more than her monthly income. The estate does have a large savings account. The money came from a reverse mortgage that was set up for her living expenses.
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Does your sister give any reasons for refusing?
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