I've been my mom's trustee de-facto for nine years and officially for the last three years. She originally didn't put me down as a trustee because I have a stress-related illness and she was worried overseeing her care would be too much (she has ALZ). When the time came, the original trustees were unable take on the responsibilities, and my brother, being out of state, wasn't an option given the type of oversight needed (transportation to dr's appts., finding an appropriate living situation etc., ). I wasn't going to take a trustee fee cause I want my mom to have her money - its hers- but the reality is my Mom over the years has periodically said to me, 'honey I hope you are taking a little something" As confused as she is, Mom seems to get what I've done and continue to do for her. In speaking with my Mom's attorney he said that even though I didn't track my hours that as de-facto and current I'm entitled to compensation and should take it so he suggested to do the best I can and guesstimate...which I did and it basically equates to .05% of her estate/per year- about $4500- which when you divide by 52 weeks is pretty reasonable and fair. So, I haven't told my brother and I know I need to, but I'm so paranoid of his reaction and paranoid he is going to fight it. Mom's attorney said as long as the fee isn't outrageous (which it isn't) it will hold up in court (and based on my own research that does seem to be the case) I'm not up to a conflict with him- it'll just add more stress that I don't need however, he knows darn well I've done everything and says as much but I seriously think this will blind side him. And yes, full transparency I'm pissy at him for not stepping up more. Yes he is out of state, but a lot has changed since Mom's journey began and he could be here more but chooses not to. And quite frankly "thank you" and being 'appreciative' doesn't offset the time and stress I've carried (I work full time, married and at one point in school for my masters) So how do I start this conversation???? I'm hoping I'm stressing over nothing but I feel like I need to prepare for the worst. He has this WIFE and he drinks her kool aid..
As long as it is done legally you should be fine. People are not entitled to know about their parents finances unless they are the DPOA, guardian or trustee. Getting old and ill doesn't mean that you lose your privacy.
If you feel you must divulge this to the brother then I think you should mention you have been to an attorney, have advice, will be charging this now, and that if he objects you are absolutely more than willing to turn the entire job over to him, as it is an onerous burden you would as soon not have.
Or just take your fees, and let him go as ballistic as he cares to go when he goes there; keep your meticulous records and on you go.
But don't listen to ME, and DO listen to a lawyer, get what advice you can in writing, and keep records and diaries. Keep this fund in a separate account would be my advice.
What you are interested in is if you have been assigned Durable Power of Attorney over your mom's affairs, while she is still alive, and can you be compensated or paid for doing that work. Do NOT confuse handling and managing your mothers financial and business affairs, property management, fixing broken plumbing or electrical and delegating getting those services accomplished, and compensation for that, which is a professional high paying skill as being the same as doing minor mundane housekeeping tasks, grocery shopping or taking her to the doctor, which is all basic simple low paying house keeping tasks. You need to have Durable power of attorney to be compensated for above jobs, while your mother is alive. You can easily delegate and pay a home care facility to handle the simple day to day tasks. POA fees is for when she is alive and is basically professional management fees, and Successor Trustee fees is for when she's deceased.
Day to day tasks, you should sub out and pay a professional service to take care of minor day to day tasks and give mom companionship, cooking, meals, light house cleaning, take out trash, pick up mail, take her for walks, etc.
Durable Power of Attorney law and responsibilities while your mother is alive is very much like Business Law and the Principle -Agent relationship, along with having a fiduciary duty to represent your mothers best interests while being her Agent to accomplish what needs to be done, and yes, no Agent works for free for the Principle, it's a job, they work, and they are entitled to compensation for said work.
Explaining it to him that way is probably the most transparent and least threatening method I can think of. Since you have trustee-ship and lawyer and mom back you up, you are not doing anything wrong that he should complain of. I would say get this dealt with while mom is alive so there is no difficult discussions after she is gone.
The amount you have taken is a pittance. It equates to 86/wk, 375/month. As far as claiming income, a good tax preparer should be able to handle this - due to mom's condo being a "life estate", when we sold it while she was still living (in MC), the IRS tables were used, so she got a bit, and the 3 of us got the rest, however we put it all back into the trust for HER. Tax person estimated what this would cost us in cap gains, and I distributed enough trust $ to cover that for the 3 of us.
For the last year or two mom was still in her condo, I became the regular go-to. That was bad enough, it was 1.5hr each way just to get there! I did take over her bills, but except for the initial temp forward of mail to get all bills and change billing address, that wasn't too bad. The appts, etc started to wear me down. Then finding a place, arranging to get her there (she didn't want to move anywhere), getting the bros on board (that was almost as much or more work!), added more on my plate (one bro isn't local, the other often didn't respond to requests for help.)
After the move, more financial stuff, getting rep payee for SS and federal pension, juggling/keeping track of her finances (trust money needed for about 1/2 of her expenses, sometimes needs adjustments.) Then about 1.75 YEARS to get condo cleared out, cleaned up, repaired, etc so we could sell it. Didn't want the RE part of this, but realized local bro would drop the ball too often, so I took that on too. At closing, in talking with atty, I said I didn't take anything as the documents don't say I can. His reply was that they don't say I can't either. Non-local bro had several times told me to take something, but I said no. More recently, as this becomes a serious strain on my fixed income (retired, not enjoying ANY of my retirement other than I don't have to work a "real" job), I do sometimes use her debit card to buy my gas or some little item(s) I need when buying something she needs. Nowhere near 375/m, but just a bit here and there to offset the gas used running around for her!
Even now that local bro thinks it is all taken care of! NO CLUE! There are still appts, OTC and med management, non-covered supplies like tissues, disposable undies, bed pads, calls from facility about whatever... recently I had to defer appts to him or we use transport ($$$) because she has fear of falling and won't stand/walk on her own - I can't support her weight, so that's that. But, there still is SO much that has to be done/managed. Easier now without the condo to pay for, but still takes my time, gas and efforts!
If not, how is her Trust related to her finances? I get the impression that asset transfers have occurred and the Trust is providing funds for her welfare and care.
Could you clarify this point? It affects how you're being paid. Also, are you the original Trustee, or a Successor Trustee? It's unclear also whether your brother is a co-trustee or a Successor Trustee, and/or if he's resigned his position, and these issues make a difference in your being paid for your work.
One of the issues I'm getting at it whether or not your brother even has a right to know or object to the expenditures, including compensation for you.
BTW, are you documenting ALL your expenditures, with dates, activity, costs (such as mileage), etc.?
You have legal backing.
As you said, the fee is way more than reasonable. The going rate for aides who often do nothing and show no initiative is $20/hr around here. I doubt that is what you are getting paid.
By being out of state it is impossible for relatives to do much of anything that involves physical labor.
Since your brother is not involved, how is it he will know about your minimal compensation?
I think you feel a moral obligation to inform him and not doing so is generating more stress for you. If he is going to stir things up, he will eventually anyhow, so I think I'd just tell him...or choose not to...the truth speaks for itself.
I was fearful that my only out of state sibling, when our parents whose care I am overseeing are gone, would force me to sell the house, the only home I have known and lived in, so that the estate could be split evenly as noted in the will. She surprised me by having thought that because of all I am doing that it would be left to me. She could still do something, but I don't think she will. Whichever of the two of us survives the other will inherit it all.
Wishing you all the best...
Is there a reason you have to tell him?
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