My sibling is moving into mom's house almost rent free. Who should I see for help? - AgingCare.com

My sibling is moving into mom's house almost rent free. Who should I see for help?

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Mom's dementia is worse & has moved to a retirement center. I have just moved my mother to an apt in a retirement center--which is twice my mother´s social security benefits. My sibling has convinced my mother, who has recently suffered a mild stroke, that the best solution is for him to move into her house and pay her half of the going market rate for rent. I have expressed that I am not in agreement with this arrangement-- that mom needs to get going rent to offset her increased living costs and home maintenance. I would like to know what kind of professional &/or legal help to seek. thank you!!

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1. Caregiver, hourly prices range by attorney, experience and size of firm. You might expect to pay a minimum of $200/hour for an associate attorney and up to around $350/hour or more for an experienced attorney. Some very experienced estate planning attorneys specializing in various trusts might charge even more.

On the other hand, sometimes they provide services on a packaged basis - trust, cert. of trust, DPOA, Living Will, Deed and Bill of Sale (if a trust is involved), for a lump sump. Since you only want a few documents, this might be the preferred way to go.

But do ensure that the price includes consultation on the issues you raise in your post, including the real estate issues. This is one of the reasons I prefer mid-sized or large law firms; there are multiple practice areas so that the attorneys can work together for a client when needs extend beyond one practice area.

Hourly rates vary by attorney, experience and geographic area. The only way to tell is to research in your area, develop a list of attorneys in the specific practice area, and call them to ask about fees.

2. I can think of 2 possibilities for dealing with the brother/manager issue.

a. See an attorney with a real estate practice (not the same as elder law practice) and have him/her prepare a management contract outlining responsibilities, obligations, defaults, and payment for/from your brother. In exchange for what he pays, he will have certain obligations to meet. If he defaults, the contract should contain remedies to evict him and terminate his contract. And the contract should ideally have a termination w/o cause provision as well.

I would require that copies of paid receipts be provided to you to ensure that he complies with the contract. And make sure the default remedies are tough.

But as GSA raises, I'd be concerned about this arrangement b/c of Medicaid ramifications, and b/c of your own concerns about his reliability.

b. Just hire a management company to rent the property, take care of management, collect funds, address repairs, etc. There would be a monthly fee, but a professional company will likely have a blanket policy for all the locations it manages, so the insurance issue is addressed. The company would do a background check, and take action if the tenant defaults.

And assuming you hire a good company, rentals would more likely be at market rates.


This is a much more professional approach than "hiring" a sibling, regardless of what the sibling wants. I too would be concerned that not only will the sibling not be paying market rent (see GSA's comment on Medicaid ramifications) but that the management won't be at the same level as a professional management company, and that the brother may allow the house to deteriorate.

And of course there's no guarantee he won't bring in friends, or even sub-let the house to friends.

These rental issues fall within the expertise of real estate attorneys.


3. Powers of attorney can be prepared by either an estate planning attorney or an elder law attorney. My preference is the former, because it can encompass a wider area of law.

I would ensure prior to any first meeting that the attorney is comfortable meeting with you initially, then meeting with you and your mother at the signing. You don't want to be in the position that your mother objects to any of the provisions when you bring her to sign the documentation.
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If you move him out, there will be $00 income, no maintenance, she will have to pay taxes, utilities and outside mowing and gardening. Rather short sighted and once you go back abroad, he will just move back in and pay $00.
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About her FA, is he with a wire house? Like he's an old school stockbroker with a series 7 rather than an insurance agent who is more about selling annuities? If so, call him and get atty names from him. He will have a couple of names for you and I'd start there. they are Probsbly going to be more estate law arty 's but the y will know of a NAELA associated one.

And yes, you go solo to first meeting but take your financial info on mo & tax assessor on house too with you. If you can do a "face sheet" on mom. Google face sheet as to what to include. All this makes yiu look better than bro for having DPOA. As you live abroad! There well could be good having it set up so that although you are DPOA, the atty acts in your stead. Comprende? Yeah it will have add'l costs but probably well worth it to get past house sake, divestment of portfolio, switching out pr cahing in whatever's. It will be a busy, busy year coming up for the atty one eay or another but once past ir, then you can go to being the primary do it yourself DPOA. Plus it sets stuff up and in a file for the eventuality when mom dies and probate opens.
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Thank you again everyone for your replies.

Mom is 84. She has a Living Will & Advanced Directive (naming my sibling and myself as joint responsible parties & heirs=equal share of all assets)

Mom has experienced memory loss since her last TIA (mild stroke #2) 6 weeks ago. She is cognitive and understands costs well, but is unwilling to look at the finite nature of her finances.

I reside abroad, and although I am back in the US now caring for mom, my sibling has convinced her over the past year that she "doesn´t have to worry about anything--that he will take care of it all". As a result, mom isn´t interested in looking at the financial forecasts that I have prepared with income & expense scenarios based on renting the home (full price / reduced price), selling the home, as well as the added costs of assisted living, if needed. My financial assessments also include how many years her money will last for each scenario.

We had a meeting last week with her financial planner. Mom has always handled her own investments through an advisor. The financial planner is aware that mom will be selling her mutual funds and liquidating her assets. The funds that have been down have been sold. All fees, required minimum distributions, and on demand withdrawl needs have been discussed.

Getting back to the legal advice.

Can you tell me what I might expect to pay for an hour with an Elder Law Atty. (NAELA)? I would like to get basic information & also discuss an MPOA and DPOA. I am thinking that I need to go to the appointment alone, since mom will want my sibling involved and to be on any legal documents signed.

Any suggestions or advice on this?

Thanks again for all of your support!!
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Also again if you don't have DPOA & MPOA for her & it's you and you alone, you need to get this done ASAP. If mom won't do this or bro is DPOA MPOA, your choices are more stark & limited.....either you & your wallet walks away from all this or you seek guardianship. Shared DPOA is not gonna work.....

It sounds like mom has made a not quite thought out financial decision with the move. What is her mental status? Is she cognitive and competent to understand costs in 2016 terms? Does she understand the finite nature of her investment income? If any of her funds are in an annuity or other time dependent account, is she aware of penalties or other withdrawal fees or non-renewals? How did she do her investments? Is there an FA that she has? Or is this she just has carried on with whatever was set in place by her hubs / your dad?

How old is mom? 75? 85? 95?
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Thanks for the clarification...Get NAELA level elder law atty. they will know of any real estate, FA or others needed as well.

Insurance! Your moms existing homeowners is void as she has moved. You may be able to get her current homeowner carrier to do a limited coverage renters policy for your brother. If not, you may need to get a vacant dwelling policy with a caretaker & repair/worker rider attached. VDPs are speciality insurance and you need an independent agent to write one. The state Farms,Allstates, USAAs usually do not underwrite these.

I have a VDP on my moms house as I'm admist probate. They aren't cheap, usually in $ 1,500 for each 100k increments and you must have riders at extra cost if workers coming in. If its vacant or empty with a caretaker visit on regular basis (like weekly or every 20 days), that will be the least expensive.
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Thank you everyone for your comments. To clarify a bit more, my mother made the decision to move to a retirement community apartment with no contract- month-to-month rent. She decided to use her investment savings to offset her increased living expenses at the retirement center. My concern is that her investment savings will be depleted quickly if she does not either sell her home or rent it at market value soon.

She has both the additional costs of the retirement center rent as well as her home expenses to contend with (prop. taxes, HOA, gardening, & home maintenance). My sibling promises to "take care of everything" (home repairs, getting the home ready to sell, moving old stuff out of the house). My fear is that he will take advantage of the low rent, plant himself there, and not get things done in a timely manner---leaving my mother in the red. I think I need to seek legal /professional advice, but I have no idea who to go see. Any ideas you can provide will be greatly appreciated. Thank you.
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mcaregiver, what will your brother be paying to live in Mom's previous residence beside only half the market rate for rent?

Or will Mom still be responsible for the mortgage [if any], the property taxes on the house, the electric, the gas [if any], the water bills. What about the house insurance? Since Mom is no longer living at the house, the house will become an investment property [being that there is a tenant, your brother] thus different insurance would be required.

Will your brother maintain the house, or will Mom have to pay for any repairs or replacements that are needed? To be honest, half a month's rent won't go very far if the air conditioner/heating goes out and needs to be replaced.... or if there are plumbing issues, the windows need replacing [if not been replaced within the past 10 years]... and there will always be an appliance that will break down. At one rental property I owned, the refrigerator, the stove, and the dishwasher all decided in one month to break down and needed total replacement. Does your Mom have enough funds for that.

Personally, I would just have Mom sell the house, put the equity [if any] into a money market to help pay for your Mom's new residence.
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So many different issues......Where to start!?! Whatever the case, you will at some point need an elder law attorney. Personally with the bad & probably worthless sibling situation looming, I'd get one that is NAELA. This site has drop down list by state of atty's.

Now, if you don't have DPOA & MPOA, then you need to get that done ASAP. & the atty can do this. personally I'd go with NAELA level one as this is likely going to be sticky in dealing with your sibling and you need an atty who isn't just about medicaid & estate planning but family dramarama & litigation too.

Now, There are things you can & should do on your own;
Gather up & go over moms banking to find out a true picture of her assets & debts & make sure that only you can withdraw funds from accounts. Get her checkbook & debit cards. Find the tax assessor statement and think about if it's accurate.

Now does mom have enough $ to be able to set aside in an existing or new account where it can't be touched with $$ to cover 6 mos of moms new living costs? So if it costs $ 3K a mo, mom has 18k in a kitty that sibling cannot touch and the 18k is NOT needed for anything else (like taxes, insurance, etc)?

If yes, then I'd suggest you have a 6 mo plan on getting moms financials figured out, including getting an evaluation on selling her home and in detail just what the house costs to maintain and what her life insurance situation is. The sale of the home will provide $$ to pay for her retirement community. Also within 6 mos, you should know if moms current placement at the retirement center is ok or if they want her to move into a higher and more costly level of care and if that happens will the facility take Medicaid. Now mom may have enough $$$ from her house sale to set aside & use only to pay for care so that she never needs medicaid....but you never know.

During this 6 mo period of time, moms monthly income is used for the costs on her house and set aside the overage for emergencies & pay for legal. If mom only gets SS, it's probably $800/$1200 a mo. Is that about right? I would not count on a penny from sibling other than maybe the first month.....lol!

If mom has no kitty money, I'm assuming you will be fronting all the costs both on her care and on her home? So can you do this? And for how long? If you are fronting costs, speak with the atty as to some sort of promissory note or other memo of understanding as to your reinbursement for all costs you paid from the proceeds of the sale of the home. This is important to do for both Medicaid and fir dealing with a equal heirs will situation.

I'd bet a case of Prosecco that your brother is going to say something like, mom can go onto Medicaid to pay for her care and mom can keep her house & that Medicaid does not make them sell their home. Well bro. is right BUT you need to keep in mind that although Medicaid allows them to keep their home as an exempt asset for their lifetime, medicaid requires them to do a co-pay or SOC (share of cost) of all their monthly income to the NH less a small ($ 35-105) personal needs allowance and the home becomes a non-exempt asset of their estate after death. The PNA really just covers maybe beauty shop & toiletries replacement. There will be no-none-nada-ziltch of moms $$ anymore to ever pay on anything on her home. So someone will have to pay all costs from day 1 of Medicaid and then till mom dies and you go through probate AND deal with the claim or lien that the state could place on the property to reinburse for costs paid by medicaid. MERP is estate recovery and is required to be attempted on all LTC Medicaid recipients and the home is subject to recovery as its now an asset of her estate. Unless you meet one of the MERP exemptions, exclusions &/or have offset claims to present in probate, there will be a MERP claim or lien on the property and to ever sell or transfer it will need to be resolved. Families usually just end up selling the house within the first few months pf a parent entering a NH and using the proceeds to continue to private pay for their elders care.

Medicaid does allow for property to be rented with the rental income going into thier copay or SOC. Medicaid rules on rental I'm not quite as familiar with as others are on this forum. But I think it needs to be with a written rental contract fair market rates & deal with rental income, insurance and tax issues as well.

Good luck, it's going to get overwhelming and be sure to take time out & away from family dramarama.
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GSA, I believe this isn't a home, but rather a leased apartment in a retirement community. That was my impression.

However, your post raises a good question, as the OP refers to the facility as "retirement center", "her house", and "apartment in a retirement center."

The question is, what is it really? House or apartment?

I think you and I both are correct - the OP's mother has been moved into an apartment (or house?) in a retirement center but still has her own house, which probably can't be kept up by OP's mother, so there will in fact be increased maintenance costs since they have to be hired or contracted.
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