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My brother and I both live in Seattle, our aging mother, diagnosed with Alzheimer's, lives in Cleveland. Is it legal to use money from her estate to pay for flights and to reimburse for missed work to visit her? Visit are used to spend time with her but also to check up on caretakers and begin preperations for an eventual transition out of her house. My brother can work remotely, I can't and have no paid time off. We don't want to do anything unscrupulous but it is costly to care for a parent long distance. I am very grateful for free cellular long distance calls. Would appreciate any information. Thanks so much.

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On a more technical/legal side, how are you going to get access to her money? Are you on her bank accounts? Or would you utilized a durable power of attorney? If so, typically the person named as the "agent" under such a power may not use the money of the "principal" for their own benefit.
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IRS would only be interested whether any money received would be considered taxable income.

When I had to step in to take over for my aunt as medical and financial POA, her attorney told me to keep excellent records documenting exact expenses and reasons for reimbursement and there would not be a problem as far as the estate records were concerned if everything I was doing related to her physical or medical care or to the handling of her financial concerns. This included several round trips from southern to northern California, even a pager and a cell phone so that her nursing home could reach me 24 /7 wherever I was.

My uncle and his wife as well as my mom saw how hard I was working to take care of my aunt and her business matters, and had no quarrel with my expenditures. Family stuff like THAT is off and where you are often run into trouble.

The one area that may be a problem is if she were to need to go on Medicaid. They have a five-year look back at that time and seem to consider what you're talking about as visitation and not the direct expenditure of money for the patient involved. That could disqualify for Medicaid for however they calculate the money is being incorrectly spent. If her estate is large enough or she has long term care insurance where Medicaid will not become an issue, you're probably safe reimbursing yourself for actual expenses regarding her care. If you envision Medicaid in the near future however, you should be seeing an elder care attorney for proper financial management of the estate.

If you and your brother agree that you can compensate yourself for lost work time, make sure it wasn't to do any sightseeing in Ohio (haha) and know ahead of time that any money designated to replace earned income in a job would also be taxable income as far as the IRS is concerned. If your earnings would be $600 or more in a year, you would need to have the estate issue you a 1099-MISC form at the end of the year (easily done).
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CarolLynn's answer is spot-on.

I'd like to add that you all on the next trip in do a very realistic look at mom's finances and what the house could sell for. If you haven't met with a Realtor, I'd try to set up a meeting with a couple who have active listings in your mom's neighborhood. Google her address and there likely will come up with Zillow or Trulia hits on nearby ones for sale and the Realtor listings. You can do this now and schedule for your trip. Realtors will likely prepare a book on the property, the comperables and days on market (DOM). You do not have to do a listing with them to have this done. Most Realtor groups have software that has the city data and all they do is put in the address and the report is done. Now with that info & mom's finances, figure out just how much $$ mom will have to pay for her care. If it looks like the money will last a decade, you can approach the proceeds from the sale of the house differently (no Medicaid look-back worries). But if she has $$ for only 3 years then a Medicaid application to pay for her NH stay is in your future, so plan accordingly. Good luck!
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Listen to Heiser, you can't be the POA and use it to pay yourself. The IRS will penalize you for unreported income, and Medicaid will penalize her by refusing to subsidize her care.
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I would consult a lawyer or the IRS. Or course, getting a straight answer from the IRS...not easy. Lawyer is your best bet.
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No. You may not use any monies in the living person's estate for your own purposes or needs.
Igloo: We're not talking real estate here. Mytislip was only asking about available money. Only the principal ( owner of the property) can sell real estate.
If she passes, then the estate takes over, and after a very long time, funds become available to the beneficiaries.
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Also, why would it be necessary for two of you to travel at the same time? Wouldn't it be better for your mum to see you separately, maybe 6 months apart? Then she would get the benefit of 2 separate visits.
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No you cannot do this, the money is for her care, not your expenses, even if you are trying to arrange to move her. I know it seems unfair but it's the truth.
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