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In my opinion, wills should absolutely NOT be used to compensate a caregiver. And caregiver absolutely SHOULD be compensated. The compensation should happen while the care is being given, on a monthly basis. What is left, if anything, can be divided equally, if that is what the parent wants.
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gladimhere Oct 2018
I agree 100% with Jeanne that care provided should be paid for through a care agreement.

Changing a will to compensate one more than another would be difficult for most parents to do. And if they live long enough there may be nothing left to inherit.
Well, I think I may disagree with everyone else here but I do think it's reasonable to leave a greater part of the estate to the sibling that has done the lion's share of the caregiving. How far you want to go in "encouraging" the parent to change the will is another story.

I would agree with JeanneGibbs about compensating the caregiver during the parent's lifetime and not through the will except that sometimes there are no liquid assets and no extra income to do that with. In my mother's case, her savings covered her funeral and little else. She had enough monthly income to pay the bills, barely. Her only assets when she died were her life insurance (minimal), an old car, and personal effects. Less than $10,000 total. Six surviving children. One who provided the majority of care and who is also tasked with managing the estate, such as it is. That would be me. One of my siblings did not bother to see my mother even once during the whole 7+ years of caregiving. I don't feel any obligation to give her an equal share of what little my mother left behind. The others too, with their drive-by visits once a year, where they ate a meal with us (that we provided) and flew back home. My mother didn't leave enough to really argue over, but if she had, I'd be very unhappy having to share equally with those who did nothing for her all those years.
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tf110862 Oct 2018
I totally agree with you. Shame on your siblings, for their 'drive bys'. Yes, you should get it all (little that it is)

I have 8 brothers & sisters, 2 of which do little to nothing, to care for my father. We all chip in but this one sister done NOTHING to care for him.

It kills me to have to split his their inheritance (if there is anything left) with her but there is nothing I can do about.

Keep my mouth shut, I guess. :)
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Since the money belongs to the parents, it is theirs to do with as they wish. Some people talk about "their inheritance" as if it is something they are entitled to receive. Caregiving can involve a significant financial sacrifice. You may have to go to part time work or use all of your vacation time, or not get that promotion because you take too much time off etc. It would be nice if the person doing the work could be paid. That would be the ideal situation. It seems like most elderly persons do not agree to pay the caregiver if they are family. If there is a significant difference in the amount of caregiving the siblings do, then it seems reasonable to have that reflected in the will. It would be a good idea for the person making the will to put in writing why they decided what they did. For myself, if someone is there for me, I intend to express my appreciation for that in my will. It doesn't matter to me how they are related to me or what is expected. If you can't be bothered with me when I'm alive, why do you think you are entitled to my money when I am dead?
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Heather10 Oct 2018
I accidentally marked this as a helpful answer, but it was a mistake.

Did you only have children so that they could be your caregivers as you age?

How selfish.

Why not plan for your own caregiving, as I have done.

All my children will be treated equally, even those that live and work far away or in another country and can not visit often.
I personally think that wills should be distributed equally. There are ALWAYS sibs who do more for the parent and ones who are literal no-shows. I personally think that wills are simply a division of assets, w/o sentimentality, if possible.

Now the dispersal of items may be looked at in a different way. I've left all 4 of my daughters my rings, and one is getting my solitaire (worth about $4K) while one is getting my star sapphire (worth about $200). I have spoken as group to all the girls and they are all OK with whatever I have chosen.

I don't think kids should be involved in the estate planning at all, if it can be avoided. It's NONE of our business.

My eldest brother robbed my parents blind while he was alive, believing he was simply receiving his "inheritance" early. $200,000?? Mom's will leaves each of us remaining sibs $10,000 each. Maybe. And I have note in the will that states I OWE the estate $1500 for something, I have no idea what. Yes, this angers me--but I'm not going to have a fit over it. It just hurts, b/c I feel like mom & dad are angry with me for something--but I will never know what or why.

While my YB has "cared" for mother for the last 22 years in his home, he has been amply supported by each of the other sibs over the years to the tune of about $5000 a year from 4 of us. Sometimes more, sometimes less, but it's a given we all help out when we can.

When mother's will is read, there are no surprises. Anger at the elder brother who robbed the follks--what's the point? He's been dead for 7 years. Mom lived to regret that terribly.

So, I'm going to say no, it's not reasonable to "reward" some sibs differently than others, unless there has been a loan or a theft from the estate by one of them.

It's not worth the fracturing of the family to do it acc to some kind of reward system.

We did our wills this summer. We DID NOT include the kids in the planning. Our lawyer told us not to bring any of them as it is not their "problem" and won't be for some years.
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Some families fracture themselves. Do you really think your brothers didn't fracture your family? You are hurt and don't know why it was done to you. It all surely fractured YOU. But I see your point in not making a fuss.

It's been my experience that there is nothing to be done legally in these situations unless the power-less take assertive steps right at the beginning, before the member(s) of the family likely to do dirty get their chance to set the gameboard up before the rest of the family even know there is a game.
It's the parent money. They earned it. They can do what they want, give it to kids, give it to charity, give it to the cat. None of anyone else's beeswax.
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CarlaCB Oct 2018
I would agree with this, except... Except in the case of the caregiving adult child, who has likely sacrificed time, money, and earnings potential to take care of the parent. I did, I know. I likely spent $5,000+ in gas and tolls during my caregiving years, traveling to Mom's to take her to doctors, shopping, errands, and take care of things around her house. I spent money on food and meds regularly that was not reimbursed. When you're the one there who sees the need, stuff comes out of your pocket. It just does. I also could not seek out jobs further than an hour from my mother's home or that would make me unavailable when she needed me. It's a big financial hit. Parents should think about that before they think about leaving everything to charity.
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Unfortunately, unequal inheritance often is translated by the involved parties into a referendum on was loved best. In my opinion, the best way to go forward is for people to receive compensation for the caregiving at the time it is provided and distribute any remaining estate equally.

No matter how good the reasons for unequal distribution are, it ends up negatively affecting the sibling relationships. If your health is not good and your mother has the money, consider outsourcing some of the jobs you are doing for her.
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dogparkmom: "the POA will make sure to reimburse himself for all expenses related to them and their estate and I may take an hourly salary for time spent going to MD visits, coordinating care, etc. We will keep careful receipts and documentation of time spent, etc to account back to the estate but in this way, we will be able to be compensated for the really huge amount of time spent before the estate is divided evenly 3 ways."

Excellent plan!  

gracealways: " there’s the potential for a very large sum of money and I’m not sure I could get past the resentment of it being equally divided. I have made many sacrifices and my siblings would not dispute that if asked. If I start taking the monthly pay and the will stays the same then I think I should get paid for the last several years. I’m not sure how mom or my siblings would feel about that. The bottom line is, I feel if I’m going to be compensated it should come from them, not her, and only if there’s money left."

I think you should start taking the monthly pay. Is your mother even competent to authorize a change in her will? Why shouldn't your pay come from her? Ultimately, it's the same thing as taking from your siblings?

Here's what could happen. You could try and get the money retroactively after your mother is gone, and if someone doesn't want to give it to you, you will be considered as challenging the will, and will therefore get nothing. This is the way my mother's trust reads.

At one point, the attention my mother required was getting to the point of too much, and I mentioned the idea of my getting to the point of wanting to be paid. One of my brothers suggested I be paid before the trust is divided four ways after my mother dies. I have read the trust and know that anyone not accepting the divided-four-ways-equally clause will get nothing. That's what it says. Another brother said he would pay me, but I didn't think it was right for just one of them to pay me. I'd be charging $20/hour. Either they all pay me, or, better yet, my mother pays me.

But of course that will never happen, because I will be subjected to one of her fits and called awful names. She will start the crying/shaking/shaming/blaming.

Fortunately the busy week/s with her subsided back to the normal amount of Dummy Daughter Driving, so it's not been brought up again.

If it happens again, I will bring it up to my mother. If she doesn't like it, she can arrange to pay outside caregivers (agency) to come in, and she will be paying them much more.

One of the very valuable things I've learned from this forum is to get the pay as you do the work. Do not expect people to agree to give you extra money when the estate is being divided because you did the caregiving.
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No. Inheritance isn't compensation. Where does that kind of thinking stop? Who was the easier teenager to raise? Who was potty-trained first? Which child cut the grass most often or helped with laundry?

I assume you are asking because your siblings are not providing hands-on care to the extent that you are. That is their choice, as it is yours. You could inform your siblings that you will establish a care agreement that compensates you for your time from your parent's funds. They can then react to that as they choose: agree to the plan, negotiate terms, or pitch in equally to avoid any payment from your parent's funds.

There's nothing but ethics to stop you from trying to persuade your parents to change the terms of their will to give you a larger inheritance. But, however much you may be shouldering the burden of your parent's care, you are doing it willingly and, if you aren't you should address your issues now and either be compensated or get help. Stewing over it and plotting to get what's owed you once they're gone isn't a healthy situation for you, your parent, or your siblings.
Helpful Answer (9)
roseTerrace Oct 2018
Very well said. I mean, think about how your parents would feel if you ask them such a question!

Its all across the board, every one has siblings that don't kick in. Unfortunately it's a given seems like. Put your parents first and do as much as YOU can for them and don't worry about how much or little the siblings are doing or not doing in most cases.
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I also agree in theory at least that wills should divide the estate equally, or as the person whose will it is, decides it should be divided. In actual fact, my husband and I live near his parents and have helped them more and more over the years. Now, we are packing up their house so they will move to AL. He has 2 sisters who live 2000 miles away. They are supportive over the phone and could fly in to help but that is not happening. I am finding myself a little more resentful than I expected. Yes, I know, it is not my inheritance, it is my husband's but as the "family nurse", I go to the doctor with them, help them coordinate medical and other issues. We will be responsible for emptying the house, arranging for painters etc and then selling house. My FIL has vascular dementia and is increasingly more confused every month. My husband is the POA so our solution will be, as FIL is less and less able to take care of himself and MIL, and we have to do more and more for them, the POA will make sure to reimburse himself for all expenses related to them and their estate and I may take an hourly salary for time spent going to MD visits, coordinating care, etc. We will keep careful receipts and documentation of time spent, etc to account back to the estate but in this way, we will be able to be compensated for the really huge amount of time spent before the estate is divided evenly 3 ways. As the other siblings don't live here, an outside care manager would need to be hired to assist and coordinate and also outside help would need to be hired to pack them and coordinate this move. I am a professional care manager who does this for a living and I know what the company I work for charges to handle these issues. I don't want to sound mercenary but to "donate" this effort to the estate which then will be divided equally is irritating. My husband does agree. They do have more than adequate assets to pay for their care so we are not taking money they need to live on. We would never consider that. But taking a salary from the estate for services rendered would be a way for a primary caregiver to be paid fairly for their efforts. Not that a child should not willingly help their parents but if the other siblings will benefit from that one person's work by receiving their "share" of the estate, I don't see a reason not to be paid first. It at least partially solves the problem of evenly divided estate in the situation where the effort to care for parents is not equally divided.
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If your mom has a substantial estate, you should hire caregivers so you are not giving up your life for an inheritance.

24/7/365 caregiving is to much for one person. Children are not obligated to be that care. You are only obligated to use moms money to make sure she is well cared for, if that means there is no money left for you or siblings at her death, then at least you know you did right by your mom and she got the best care possible.
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