We are moving and Mom's going with us, can I have her pay some expenses? - AgingCare.com

We are moving and Mom's going with us, can I have her pay some expenses?

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My husband has taken a job in another town and right now I am hanging behind to tie up loose ends before I move and go with him. My mom is currently living in a senior apt complex and I take care of all of her groceries, meds, Dr. visits etc. She has alzheimer's.
When I move out of town I cannot/won't leave her behind and I plan on buying a home that has enough room for her too and moving her with us. This means buying a more expensive home than I would have to buy without her but also means that all the bills will be in our names and this will increase our monthly outlay by quite a bit.
My question is two fold. First, can part of my mom's money be used towards down payment on a house and/or can part of her money be used to pay utility bills, cable etc?
This seems only fair to me because without me she would be in a hugely expensive assisted living facility but I understand the goverment is not usually reasonable. LOL I don't want to saddle my husband with mom's total upkeep when she is able to help support herself but I also don't want to get shafted for doing something that I will get persecuted for later.

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Yes, you can, is the short answer; and it is reasonable for her to pay her fair share.

The devil is in the detail. Actually, about six dozen devils at the last count - we went through exactly this process, thought we had everything covered, are now finding it just doesn't turn out to be straightforward.

We bought our house as tenants-in-common (not sure what the US term is, apologies), which means that my mother, my partner and myself own varying percentages of the value of the house; we all have a right to live here until we all agree to sell the house; but any one of us can force a sale, in which case the other two would have the option to buy out the third, first refusal… And this is just to do with buying the house. You already need a lawyer.

Maintenance and living costs can be shared in whatever equitable ratios you all three (i.e. yourself, your husband, and whoever holds POA for your mother if anyone does - if it's you, you need to tread carefully) agree, and this can also be written up in a Deed of Trust.

You need to think of every possible variation, development, unforeseeable event etc that could conceivably happen. Here are the key mistakes we made:

1. Buying a house that had hidden, expensive problems. Yes we did have a full structural survey done beforehand. I don't want to talk about it. Moral: buy new, under warranty. Get at least three independent surveys. Go over it on your hands and knees with a fine-toothed comb and a magnifying glass. Be absolutely sure of what the damned house is going to cost. The reason this became a problem is that we ran out of repair money at different rates, me first. Hideous.

2. Not anticipating the effect of increasing dependency on earning capacity. Me again. I had a nice little freelance business, highly portable and flexible, you'd have thought. Well not THAT damned flexible I can manage 24/7 care and copy deadlines together. My partner and my mother are now technically supporting me, though on the other hand my mother gets free care. If anybody ever wanted to add up, I'd probably come out of it very well - but it's not what we agreed, and it's not how it's meant to work. If you ever need to be audited, you could be in trouble.

3. Overestimating one's own or one's partner's capacity to share the caregiving burden. My partner tried his best. He's had enough, now, he can't cope with it. We're dismantling everything this year, as painlessly all round as possible.

4. Not nailing down to the last detail what should be included in shared, normal household expenses and what is personal spending. Take toiletries. Let's assume we all use the loo paper, fine. What about my shampoo? What about her hand lotion? What about his special toothpaste? Same with food: if only one person likes wasabi peas, for example, are they still everyday groceries? Seriously, it gets really silly really quickly. Think EVERYTHING through.

This is not because we wrangle about such matters, you understand. It has become a problem because my sister has financial POA for my mother and has to be able to account for ALL of her expenses. Nightmare. The officials tell me to "keep a sense of proportion." Then all you have to do is agree on what is "reasonable…" - except that lawyers' pensions are built on that word.

I see from your new post that you are POA: you're already on the right track appreciating the sensitivities, well done. It's all still possible, and don't overcharge yourself - rule of thumb, if you could justify the expenses charge to your mother in front of an auditor, you're being fair and don't worry.

Good luck! it is worth it, really. I think!
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Thanks Jeanne, that's exactly what I was thinking. I am already moms POA and I take care of her money, but I am hesitant to do certain things because I don't want to look like I am taking advantage. What you said is what I had in mind. I was thinking that she could pay us what she is paying for her subsidized apartment now and some towards electricity. Even though she currently lives alone, she is slowing changing and getting a little worse. I have been getting ready for the time that I will need to quit my job and move her in with me and this seems like it will be perfect timing. I was thinking of the down payment mainly because we are going to have to buy a house that is actually more of a house than my husband and I would need without her, but if that is a problem we can still manage that. I will get some help drafting a personal care contract and I will feel better about it.
I appreciate the response to my question. Thanks
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I take it that you are concerned about the possibility she may need Medicaid later, and you don't want it to appear that she is giving her money away. That is wise.

Even the government doesn't expect people to live for no cost whatsoever. Your mother can (and, in my opinion should) pay her own way, to the extent that she is able. She can use her ss check or pension or assets to pay for room and board (and that could include utilities and cable). She can pay you for other services, such as transportation. Paying part of the down payment is maybe a little trickier.

When you get to where you are going, find an attorney or a law firm specializing in Elder Law. Get a personal care agreement and/or a room-and-board agreement drawn up, spelling out what you are providing and what Mom is paying. If you don't already have things such as a Durable Power of Attorney and Health Care Directive, you can have that taken care of, too, providing your mom can still understand those concepts.

My mother lives with my sister. She pays Sis the same amount she was paying for her subsidized apartment. If Sis were to offer room and board or even just the rooms on the open market she could charge much more, but she is charging what Mom can afford. My sister is also being paid by Medicaid for some of the care she provides. If your mother doesn't use her money to pay for her own needs, what is she saving it for?
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