How can I protect my own survival/roof over my head when Dad has opted to divide the estate equally with a sibling? - AgingCare.com

How can I protect my own survival/roof over my head when Dad has opted to divide the estate equally with a sibling?

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Recently took 99+ alert father to elder law atty to update POA's and will as his atty had died. Had explained to atty my concerns that as I am only in-state child and caregiving issues are falling to me (escorting to MD appts/procedures, bill paying, some cooking, cleaning, advocacy efforts, communication assistance etc) that while I was more than willing to do this out of love, decency etc, I was concerned about being able to stay put in home I have known and lived in almost my entire life (I am single age 60+, low pay job, using sick time etc to care for elders as needed). After meeting privately with father, attny tells me that dad did not want to put house in my name. I never asked for that to happen, nor intended for that...only had concerns for wise and informed planning should my mother, age 95 with dementia, not able to sign papers, have needs beyond home caring capacity. I would do absolutely anything I could to keep both of them at home and safe...but I work in the field and know sometimes situations develop beyond our control. This issue has not been openly discussed...but as it stands with the estate to be evenly divided, it concerns me that I could be forced out of the house in which I wish to remain, and feel, since I am doing all I can for them (out of state sibling does virtually nothing), I should at least have some sense of security in knowing I can stay put, with the understanding that I would turn the home over to my sister if I predecease her. Per atty, dad is in charge of mom's decisions; should he pass before her, than I would have to go through probate and become mom's guardian. I am to be executor of dad's estate. Communication is difficult on many levels. Sibling may convey one thing, but not hesitate to do what is necessarily to get the financial gains when the time comes. To document and charge for the care I provide is just abhorrent to me. These people have given of themselves to support me, and I believe family should be there for each other. Any guidance would be appreciated. It seems my good efforts have backfired perhaps as it seems this attny being paid for by dad is there to be his advocate and she doesn't seem to have enlightened him on things he may want to consider, taking in the big picture. Or am I missing something??

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So sorry you may have misinterpreted my comment(s). By no means did I mean to imply it was wrong to charge or be paid for caregiving responsibilities.
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"In our family, in spite of differences, we are in the end there for each other." That is great, gdaughter. But I sure hope it isn't implying that the many caregivers on this board who do accept payment from their parents are from families who aren't there for each other.

I think a care agreement and accepting pay is one of the ways to level the paying field, so to speak, among siblings regarding inheritance. If the child/children who did much for the parents was paid along the way, then splitting any inheritance equally shouldn't be a cause of conflict.

If your parents paid you, and you set that money aside, might that enable you to buy your sister out and own the house yourself when the time comes?

Our mother lived with my sister for about a year, before she needed a higher level of care. Sis charged Mom the same rent as Mom had been paying for subsidized housing. Sis also accepted payment from Medicaid for caring for her. I can absolutely assure you that accepting that rent and care money did in no way mean we aren't there for each other in our family!

And many parents do charge adult children rent if they still live at home, or for babysitting, etc. The practical aspects of paying one's own way should not be confused with degrees of love.
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Jeannegibbs as stated elsewhere I believe, every family dynamic is different and a variation on the themes. I would not bill my family the same as they have not billed for much they could have for the support they have given me over the years. In our family, in spite of differences, we are in the end there for each other...but your points are well taken in that caregiving has value and can be charged for. That there is payback of one sort or another. You are right that it is very hard to reconcile it all. And in the end the decision rests only with one person right now. But that doesn't mean he can't be educated on various options.
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"To document and charge for the care I provide is just abhorrent to me." And yet, you expect (not unreasonably) to be compensated for that care. How do you reconcile those two attitudes?

I don't know how much/how long you've provided care. I don't know how much rent you have paid over the years. I don't know exactly what your situation is. But here is my firmly held belief:

1) Elders should expect to pay for their care, whether that is to an "outsider" or to a family member. ("Pay" might include things like free rent, board, etc. If there is a chance Medicaid may be needed, the pay and duties should be spelled out in a care agreement.)
2) Payment for care should occur while the care is occurring. Deferring it until after parents' death is impractical and may very well result in no payment at all.

If you find the concept of being paid abhorrent , fine, don't accept pay. But don't then expect to dictate your sibling's attitude toward inheritance. If you do expect some compensation, be upfront about it with all concerned.

You father's attorney logically (and legally) represent your father's interests and desires. You need to consult an attorney who will represent your interests. Ultimately, what happens to your parents' estate is up to your parents. But your attorney can advise you on how best to protect your own interests.
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Hey cwillie, yes, many unfortunate circumstances and personalities life-long that kept these matters from being discussed more openly. To be clear, the will has been more re-done from what it was with no revisions I don't think...actually he GAVE me all the papers, which include POA, HCPOA, Living will etc...to READ and more or less give my blessings to, and then call to make an appt to have the papers signed. Note that the will in particular has DRAFT splashed across it, so revisions are clearly possible. Anything is possible. The attny was recommended by a very trusted social worker, and my letter explained the circumstances in enough detail that I would think she would have a realistic perspective and could tell I was not exerting undue influence. I made it extremely clear I did not want the circumstances to be unclear, only to be able to continue living in the home I've known for as long as I wish/am able...and being open to my siblings return to share it as well. I was very surprised when the attny told me dad did not want to put the house in my name...I never asked for that. I did expect her to be more educational and consider potential situations that could develop, i.e. hope for the best, plan for the worst. My sibling has been very supportive of late (guilt?) but a lifetime of observing has me on edge, not knowing if she would be generous and compassionate. I find it incredibly sad that we are so far apart, literally, as I would be there for her should she need care, and would wish she would be there for me. One thing is clear: from my perspective, things can not get any worse based on my concerns, and can only be improved. I will share my concerns and see where it goes. Thanks for your good wishes.
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You don't have to convince me of the value of your presence in your parent's home - I'm a caregiver too - you need to convince your father. Unfortunately you did not have this discussion before he updated his Will, and convincing him to change a policy he reestablished so recently is not going to be easy. I think speaking to his lawyer beforehand was unwise as it could have been seen as an attempt to exert undue influence which lead to the outcome you are now facing. If you can write a detailed explanation of your arguments and get your sister to back you up you may still be able to change his mind. Good luck.
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To 97yroldmom, there are resources that would be spent down before Medicaid eligibility would enter the picture, and in that case there would be limited inheritance left for anyone, if anything. So, cwillie, not taking an angry or defensive perspective, but facing the facts, my presence as sole caregiver is in essence an asset to the sibling because I am protecting her inheritance as well, to be blunt about it. For me it is about payback for all they have done for me, but yes caregiving is a task more often than not. While the sibling gets to live a carefree lifestyle unburdened by any concerns a caregiver must deal with daily, I am earning my keep so to speak, by being there. Not quite 24/7 no, but that doesn't mean it won't have to be, because if I did not mention it, mom has dementia with the typical short term memory loss. So she presents a risk. If not for dad I would not be able to work any hours without knowing mom was either in a day program/safe environment or that adequate precautions were in place in the home. Every family situation and relationship is different. My sister and I would always be welcome in the home. Do not jump to conclusions that I have not paid my way. I handle my own expenses. I did not go into the background of my life but let's just say it has not been without challenges. The sibling would be welcomed back by any of us. She made her own decision to go across the country to get away from all of us and the cold. She has no interest in returning to help.
CTTN55, I do not have reason to believe my father would reject outside caregivers, if carefully screened. Someone previously gave me the advice to document all the time spent in caregiving duties...because caregiving does have a value.
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If you go the "life estate" route, see if a clause could be put into place that if and when you need to move to a nursing home, and if you are there for a certain length of time and is not physically and/or mentally able to return back to the house, then the house will go to the heir.

Otherwise, if the person who has "life estate" still has use of the house even thought they no longer living in the house. They are still responsible for the real estate taxes, utilities, repairs, etc. The house could sit vacant for years.

Double check with an elder law attorney about the above.
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I'm going to approach this from what may be your sister's point of view (and perhaps your father's as well). You are over 60 years old and never left home, or at least you have been back in your parent's home for "most of my life". Presumably they didn't always need care, did you pay a reasonable rent to live with them through those years? Even now you are able to work outside the home so presumably they do not need 24/7 care and supervision? Why should your sister give up her inheritance simply because you failed to be more financially successful than her?
Please don't get defensive and angry but take an honest look at my comments, the only way to secure your future is to disinherit your sis (presuming of course that medicaid doesn't make this a moot point). Unless your sis is decades younger than you a life estate will never benefit her directly. It seems to me your hope is totally dependent on their generosity and willingness to give up what they all see as "fair". That isn't likely to happen unless you are able to to be straight with them and go down on bended knee to plead your case.
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Please take 97yearoldmom's excellent advice and consult an elder attorney who will be looking out for YOUR interests!

"I would do absolutely anything I could to keep both of them at home and safe..." Tell me more about this. What if your father refused to let in outside caregivers? What if he refused to go to a facility if that becomes necessary (or if it becomes necessary for your mother)?

My mother has her trust to be divided equally between the four of us sibs. Three are out of state (boys, of course!) and call her, come to visit a few times a year (one less than the others), and they are all Golden Boys (most especially the one who contacts her the least)!

My time is worthless, as my mother's told me. I do not live with her, and never will. Even though we have a ranch (so no stair issues), she will never come to live with me. She lives in a one-story condo. I am her driver, and I've had to carefully set and enforce boundaries regarding that (thank you to this website regarding the excellent advice re boundaries!). I am expected to go over there to take care of minor issues.  I will not do personal care or housecleaning. My mother can well afford to do both. She will never qualify for Medicaid. 

My mother is almost 91, blind in one eye, severe depth perception problems, atrial fibrillation, neuropathy in her feet (she shouldn't be showering alone). She is a fall hazard. She has bad hearing. She shouldn't be living alone. She could afford AL, but refuses to consider it. 

When I mention being paid, my mother commenced with a yelling fit. This was a year ago. I have informed my brothers that when the demands become too much, I will expect to be paid $20/hour (still no personal care will be done by me excepting being a shower monitor). I have also told them that my simply walking away could be an outcome if too much is demanded of me.  

My mother would NEVER agree to pay me for doing things. It is not too bad, but I've had to enforce those boundaries, as I wrote earlier. She was offended to realize that I didn't like spending hours on the phone with her to rehash problems that she wouldn't let me quickly solve.

Yes, she has the beginnings of dementia (possibly/probably). I am now no longer allowed in to the examining room when she goes to the doctor (while she has no problem with me knowing what goes on, she is offended because the doctors talk to me. She can't hear/process/remember, so who knows what is going on at the doctor visits now.)

As you can guess, my mother and I don't have a good relationship. I avoid her as much as possible.
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