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I'll try to be brief here, even though I'd like to write a book!


Here are my two questions: (1) should my husband and I ask Dad for some sort of compensation for our services? (2) should we ask Dad to set aside enough money to cover his final expenses in a joint account with Dad's name and mine on it?


Here's the situation. Dysfunctional family. I'm the least favorite of the four children. Mom dislikes me to the point where she flies into a rage at her sister (my aunt) if she finds out that my aunt has spoken to me. She has mellowed slightly in the last few years, but the dislike is still there. My sister also dislikes me.


In spite of the family issues, my husband are doing all of the work of caring for my dad without assistance from Mom or my siblings. We took on this task because Dad was gravely ill and no one else was stepping up. It's been nearly three years now, and still no one else has stepped up. In fact, Mom and sister haven't even visited him. (They live about an hour and a half away.) My two brothers have visited, but they live thousands of miles away and aren't in a position to provide hands-on help.


Mom and Dad are financially comfortable, but Dad has no interest in paying for anything that he can get for free, and thus far that has included our services. He also has no interest in utilizing assistance that is available to him for free, such as the twice-weekly grocery runs at his independent living home. I'm very tired, and I'm starting to feel like a chump, particularly because I know that my sister and brother-in-law are being compensated for tasks that my brother-in-law carries out for Mom, such as cutting up a fallen tree. (I also know that they review my parents' checking account every month, but that's a separate issue.)


My husband and I have always felt that it's inappropriate to ask Dad for money because, as family members, we have an obligation to help him. But it's been a long and exhausting few years, and there's no end in sight. Would you ask for compensation going forward? And if so, how much?


Also, do you think that it's a good idea to ask Dad to set aside a small account, joint between him and me, to cover his cremation, death certificates, his last month's rent, and so on? If so, how much would be appropriate? When Dad passes, I'm sure that we'll have to cover those costs ourselves until the estate is settled unless Dad has created a final expense account.


I would certainly appreciate advice.


Thanks!




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I think I'm so glad dad's grandson was willing to give up his independence for him to have his and move in with him and take care of his meds, take him to the doctor and, after he wound up in the hospital, for which I went, what? doing my daughterly duty, though I was close to dad and considered it more than a duty, he started doing more, if not all, not really sure how much dad had still been doing by that point, of keeping supplies laid in, as he, over the course of the next couple years, not just coming out of that hospitalization, he seemed okay for a while after that, not like what they said they thought he would be like but maybe they were just a little off on his timing, but, strangely enough, his next hospitalization just a couple months, if that long, later, was totally different, maybe because nobody could be with him? interesting....but dementia did come to the point he wasn't going to be able to keep it up; dad reached a point he wasn't able to be checking anything....
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On independent living: this only worked for us ( my "close by" brother and sil, each of us an hour away) because we kept track of meds and supplies. Mom's meds were on auto-refill and I refilled her weekly pill boxes each week and noted what was low. She was not using protective garments and as i visited once a week, anything she was out of was able to be restocked ( shampoo, dish detergent etc). If she became ill on days the doctor was not on site, it was generally not a 911 level emergency. It could wait until her was next there. We were able to call him on his cell.Or he would order a test, and she could be taken to a lab for blood work in a cab, without us showing up. It was always reported to us that it was a "harrowing ride" but that did not mean that one of us needed to be there.

We had a strict no emergency policy while mom was in IL. It was only an emergency if the facility called 911. Otherwise, it was something that staff could take care of or that one of us could deal with on one of our weekly visits.

Medical visits. We use medical transport, ie ambulette. The facility sends an aide, at my request. I don't do wheelchairs and i don't do bathroom trips. I'm there to talk to the MD and to see that my mom gets the right kind of medical care.

I'm sure this sounds cold, but I can't afford to get injured "taking care" of mom.

I think this may be a boundary issue. What mom "wants" and what we can provide are two different things. None of us have ever had a problem saying no to her, and for whatever reason, she accepts what we can and can't do.

Look, my mom has vascular dementia. I don't expect her to get nuance or to look at things from my perspective. It's a lot like dealing with an egocentric small child. I state what can or can't be done. I give her two options if that's possible. But i can't fufill all my mom's wants and desires.
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I know what you mean, Freqflyer. They're "independent"; we're scrambling to keep up with their needs. Dad doesn't think to tell us that he's running low on one or more of his meds until he's almost out. If my husband didn't keep track of the refills and renewals, we'd be in crisis medicine mode more often than not.

As for the health issues, here's a snippet of a conversation I had with Dad awhile back:

Angie [after a particularly exhausting doctor visit/med run]: My back hurts.

Dad: And I'm tired. [no acknowledgment whatsoever of my remark]
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Angie, I always wondered about the term "independent living" because I still feel like I am doing a lot of the work and had lost my independence :P

Example, stocking up on Depends/Guards to make sure Dad has enough. I will get a panic call saying he is out, yet he had failed to check in the sink cabinets that were are extra packages of same, and also in his closet. Dad had depended on Mom for so many different things.

As for the health issues for ourselves, even if I got a head cold my parents thought I would be back to normal within 24 hours. One time I had surgery and felt lousy, and the next day my Dad wanted to go get a haircut. Can't win :P
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Dad does have a will and a trust set up. I am his primary POA and his primary patient advocate, and my sister is the secondary POA and patient advocate.

Freqflyer, I do have the feeling that my health issues ultimately will make no difference with regard to Dad's desire and need for assistance. Mom and sister won't care either (I guess I shouldn't be so blunt, but it's true). I'm hoping that Dad will agree to some professional assistance and then will continue with it after my health issues are resolved.

Yes, we are running around like crazy trying to provide for everything that Dad needs and wants, despite the fact that he is in independent living. And we never know what will happen next. Last month, Dad fell for the pitch of a telephone slammer (who told Dad that his company was taking over Dad's phone service--actually, the service wasn't even in Dad's name), and my husband was on the phone for hours straightening that out.
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You present a very complex set of interactions. The emotional is the hardest to fix because the end result may be total alienation from dad AND family(such as they are). I agree that you are enabling because it took 3 years to boil to the top. When dealing with situations like this, communication in advance is critical. If dad is "well off", then medicaid probably wont be an option. You need to meet or speak to siblings and mom and settle who does what and at what cost. Be prepared for resistance on all sides.
The money side can be less emotional. Once responsibilities are settled, consult and ELDER LAW attorney. He/she will lay out all of the future pathways and how each family member may be affected. Depending on actual wealth; Trusts, wills, POAs, Medical POAs, etc may need to be set up. GET PROFESSIONAL 3rd PARTY ADVICE!!!
Good luck.
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Sorry your dad will object to paying a professional but that's why you need to have tough love and boundaries ...he doesn't get to call all the shots. Once you make a decision just tell him..."this is what we can and can not take care of."
By the way who has POA over his finances and health care decisions? You, I hope, since you're doing it all.
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AngieJoy, I think what happens is the parent/child dynamics. Our elderly parents are in denial that we, the grown children, are aging ourselves. I was a senior citizen trying to care for much older senior citizens. My parents [90's] refused to make their world easier to I had to change my world for them.... oh how I wished I would have set boundaries back then !!

My Mom had passed a few months ago and my Dad is now in Independent Living... I did the happy dance when he said he was ready to leave his house which had a lot of stairs. But I am still running around, like you are. I do use Peapod for on-line groceries and curb side pickup, at least I am not roaming the grocery store for hours on end. At least Dad is no longer asking to go to Home Depot on a weekly basis :)

Ah the financials. My Mom was the one who took care of the bills, Dad never paid any attention to them. Thus after Mom passed, we were finding unpaid bills in the recycling. So I dragged home dozens of 3-ring binders and had all of Dad's mail redirected to my address. Good heavens, doing the bills and managing the stocks is like having a part-time job in itself. Plus I still work.

My Dad's Independent Living also has their own transportation for the residents to go to the local grocery store one afternoon, another day to Walmart, another day to another store, etc. but my Dad, like your Dad, won't go. I think it is because it was always Mom's job to do the shopping. And at 94, we aren't going to change Dad's ways.

Oh, don't think for a moment that you having major health issues is going to change anything. Last year I had a major fall and broke my shoulder. I thought there might be a positive to this, that maybe my parents will hire caregivers, etc. Nope, Nada. Never. They waited until I healed, which took months, and we were back to square one again.... [sigh].
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Harpcat, Thanks so much for your response. I read the Boundaries book years ago, but I think that I need to read it again. Dad wants to shop at places that aren't on the route of the IL van. And, of course, he also wants personalized door-to-door service. There is a senior cab service here in town. It won't take him on a loop from store to store, but it will take him to one specific store of his choice and pick him up at a time of his choosing. We actually had planned to take Dad over and sign him up this week (provided he agrees), but he has a bad cold at the moment. As soon as he's fully recovered, we will do that.
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Thanks so much, everyone, for your responses. Here is some clarification. The acute illness phase of Dad's problems has passed. There are emergency illnesses, of course, but he has been functioning well for almost two years. I think that he could easily live another five to seven years (he is 94 years old). He sees a number of specialists. He has been hospitalized four times since he came to our city, three while he was living with us, once right after he moved to independent living. The independent living place does not provide transportation to medical appointments. This would not change if Dad moved up into assisted living. The on-site doctor is there on Wednesdays only. Dad would need to go to the ER if he were ill on a non-doctor day (that's what they told me).

Mom and Dad have always had serious marital problems. Until Dad became ill he lived with Mom in a house that is in her name only. Both of my parents are much happier with the current arrangement and do not want to live together.

ferris1, you're quite right that I've been doing what a daughter should do in the case of a family illness. And I think that up to a point it has been good for me to set aside my feelings about my past and present treatment by my family and practice forgiveness by giving service. However, the family illness phase is over. Now it's more a matter of providing continuous maintenance care.

My concern about the cost of the funeral arrangements is that Dad will no doubt pass away here because he's living here. The family will almost certainly refuse to pay for the cremation, and so on, especially if I ask them to do so.

Dad and Mom has been generous with my sister and her family, but their generosity doesn't extend to my family. Their finances, their choice. Dad will no doubt object strenuously if we try to get him to pay a professional for some services. However, I think that we're at the point where we can't continue doing everything ourselves.

Sister and her husband do a lot for Mom (who doesn't need anywhere the level of care that Dad needs), and I don't expect them to come here to help me. I do think that they should visit once in awhile (they haven't) because Dad misses them.

Here's the current plan. I actually am having some serious (although non-life-threatening) health issues. After I have more information (upcoming medical appointment should give me the details) I'm going to talk to Dad and explain that, at least for awhile, my health issues will make it necessary for him to hire paid help to provide some of his services. We have researched the paid assistance situation and have found what appears to be an excellent source of help. If Dad agrees, we will make the arrangements for him to hire a caregiver. If he refuses . . . then we'll have to think up a plan B.
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If you are giving care to your Dad without your mother's help, that is up to you. Don't complain or ask to be reimbursed for doing what a daughter does in case of a family illness. If they are "comfortable" with their finances, let them pay for professional services and you take a rest. Whether or not funeral arrangements have been made is their business and you do not need to pay for their burial. Your family doesn't sound dysfunctional, it sounds like members just don't like each other. As the saying goes, "You can choose your friends, but not your family". Take a rest and let the chips fall where they may. And stay away from your mother who is a toxic relationship for you.
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Angie, here's my take. Figure out what you are willing to do for your dad WITHOUT compensation, just based on being his kid. For me, when my mom was in IL, it was visiting once a week on Saturday, taking her shopping that day, haircut one week, dry cleaners,etc. Medical appointments were scheduled at my convenience. I work full time.

What are dad5emergencies? Are they medical in nature? Is there a doctor at the IL. One of the beauties of mom's setup was that there was a doctor whho had hours twice a week at the complex; we were able to ring him for direction if mom had a "crisis". We also cut back on doctors...no more cardio, gyno, mamo. Mom saw her eye doctor, but that was it.

"Call the staff" was our mantra when mom had an "emergency", it took her a while, but she got it eventually. Don't let the fact that you have an elderly parent derail your life.
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I am confused about something you aren't clear on. Your dad lives in independent living but your mom lives elsewhere? And she won't go see him? Are they divorced??? Also, does he have health issues?
One thing I see is that you have failed to set boundaries. This is one reason you are feeling taken advantage of. When you step up for yourself instead of letting him have power over everything you do, you will be better psychologically. You need to tell him he will need to start using them IL van to go to the store. First it's good for him socially and physically to get out. Also it lets him be responsible. Since you don't mention any issues with his getting around I see no reason for you to do this for him. My dad lived in IL up until January and went to the store weekly. it was hard at first for him to get the hang of how it was done, but like a mom sending her kid off to school for the first time, I had to let him do it on his own even if I could do it easier. Soon he was fine. If dad isn't independent enough to do his own shopping then he should be in assisted living. But regardless, please please read a book on boundary setting or see a counselor so you know how. It's vital to protect your sanity. I'm surprised you don't have your sister take over some of the things needing done. Are you two on the outs as well? What if you keeled over tomorrow ...how would they manage? Would they? Of course they would...so stop acting like you are the only one who can do it all. Stand up for yourself and only do what you are comfortable with. By the way it sounds like your dad hasn't any boundaries (as well as your mom) as they are infringing on you. There is a great book out by Henry Cloud, a Ph.d psychologist that I've read. It's excellent. Your mental health can suffer from this...you have an obligation to you. No guilt or martyrdom allowed. Take care!
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Debdaughter, Mom pays sister and brother-in-law from my parents' joint checking account. Actually, Mom isn't able to write checks anymore. She's afraid of making a mistake. My brother-in-law writes the checks to pay her bills, and she signs them. I do NOT think that any fraud or deceit is involved. He's an honest person, and he's just taking on a task that Mom can't carry out anymore. And I don't think that it's particularly unfair that brother-in-law and sister are compensated for helping Mom. I just feel that it's unfair that we're expected to help Dad without any pay.

Picking up snacks and toiletries, meds, lottery tickets, and so on, really isn't a big deal. Any one of the little services that we carry out for Dad isn't a big deal. But the entire package (including attending to his regular and emergency medical needs) is overwhelming.

Everyone's responses are really giving me food for thought, and I appreciate them.
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Angie, is your dad paying your sister and bil or is your mom? and, so, it's not like your dad's having to actually shop for groceries to have something to eat; they do actually provide his meals; is the difference between independent and assisted, does he still, though, eat in his own place or are the meals communal and I'm assuming he does eat them, then, right? so is it really that big a deal just picking him snacks and toiletries? I'm assuming you just throw them in with your own regular shopping, that's it not like you have to make special shopping trips for that, are you? so he did live with you....so there must be more to this that he then had to move to this independent living place, even though apparently he's not really able to, as in you're still doing the same stuff for him, just not at your house; I'm actually somewhat surprised you got him to go
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Terry512, Thanks for the suggestion of purchasing an insurance policy that would cover the costs of Dad's final expenses. I think that Dad would be a lot more comfortable with purchasing an insurance policy than with the idea of prepaying for a funeral. He saw so much death during the war that he doesn't like to think about funerals. I might just float the idea of prepaying for a funeral, too, though, just to see what he thinks.

GardenArtist, Thank you for your honest assessment of the situation. There definitely is some enabling going on, and I'm not sure why I've been unable to do anything to improve matters. I don't know whether or not I have the courage to tell Dad that his free ride is over and from here on out he needs to compensate us fairly. What I'd really like, in lieu of formal payment, would be for Dad to say once in a while, "You and your husband have been working so hard for me. Here's fifty bucks for you to go out dinner" or "Angie, I appreciate everything you're doing for me. Here's fifty bucks. Go get your nails done." I am absolutely sure that will never happen, and so if I want any compensation at all, it will have to be on a more formal basis (and I do think that we'll need a formal contract set up with the help of a lawyer).

Truth be told, I'm not at all close to Dad, and I don't have a loving relationship with him. I have compassion for him but no deep affection. I do feel as though I owe him something because my husband and I (with Dad's and Mom's consent) removed him from his previous living situation (because we literally feared for his life) and brought him to the city where we live. The family doesn't want to take him back, and even if they grudgingly did so, they wouldn't do any of the little things that make his life pleasant, such as taking him to favorite stores and picking up his lottery tickets. I'm not at all sure that he'd even make it to his doctor's appointments. My husband says that I would be so concerned about Dad's well-being if he went "home" that I'd be more stressed out than I am now.
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This is my take on the situation, frankly but not necessarily critically:

You've been helping your father for quite a while, w/o pay, while he is in fact paying sister and BIL. Yet you've continued to help him. There's obviously some enabling going on. If father can get away with not paying, he's going to.

You want compensation. He probably doesn't think he needs to pay. You may have to take a stand and decline to provide any more free help. Are you prepared to do that?

If not, get a caregiver contract drawn up and present it to him. Be prepared for anger. But before you do that, make a list of alternate sources he can use to get the help he needs. Then he has no excuse to say he doesn't know how to get the help you've been providing.

Are you, though, prepared to endure the anger if not alienation he may feel toward you, given that your mother and sister dislike you?

As to final expenses, suggest that he purchase a funeral plan now and lock in prices. That avoids the issue of a joint account.

I have the impression that it's important to you to be involved, and to be paid. The two may in fact be mutually exclusive, given the attitude of your parents.

Perhaps you may just have to step back and let the siblings and your parents work out their own arrangements, whether they want to or not.
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Debdaughter, Dad gets three meals per day as part of his rent, but we shop for his snacks and toiletries (he does reimburse us for the cost of the items). The senior living place takes the residents grocery shopping twice a week, but Dad won't go on those trips. He doesn't outright refuse when we suggest it; he says something polite about thinking about it, but he never follows through.
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Dad is paying for the independent living. He and Mom are well able to afford it, although there was consternation when they realized that he couldn't keep living with us. Dad's "independence" is pretty much an illusion that's based on us doing all of the behind-the-scenes work. I started to make a list here of everything that we're doing, but I deleted it because it sounded like one long complaint!
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I believe the reason for avoiding gift compensation is for possible future Medicaid. And if he's like my dad, then, yes, he would balk at paying another caretaker but then who's paying for the independent living and how is he eating? is the only way is for somebody to be going to the grocery; being independent, as opposed to assisted, does that mean they don't provide meals, so, Angie, have you been going to the grocery? assuming that means he can't go for himself, so is independent really the best place for him? should he be in assisted? And how much time - or how much care - are you actually spending, as in would assisted even be enough or would he still need a caretaker in addition; if he's needing that much help, is he in a continuum community, where it might be time to transition him even further into long-term care? or is that where cost is coming into play, which goes back to who's paying for all this anyway? Now, on the other hand, I'm so grateful my dad had both him and mom's expenses pre-paid - and they had the casket they wanted, guess you just have to make sure you are, think maybe those who didn't just didn't know how to make sure they did and I'm sure there are some unsavory places out there that would take advantage so you need to know who you're dealing with; they had a very reputable place that they'd know about for years; I'm assuming music was included, though I'd have to look, but regardless we had it but then my cousin in the one who normally plays for them anyway so it's possible she just didn't charge us, I, at least, didn't pay her - oops? - but now it didn't include the stone, and I'm not sure it would have, since the funeral home itself doesn't sell them but they do have a place right behind them that does, so not sure if they have some sort of joint arrangement or not, but dad had bought that years before anyway, never thought anything about it, had just always been that way, wish now I'd asked more about that, and they're buried in a city cemetery so they take care of it so that wasn't an issue either, but, again, not sure the funeral home would have had anything to do with that either, though I have begun to see where some have their own, but I'm just glad they did, but I have heard of the fleecing in other situations, why husband's aunt and uncle won't do it but they are hanging onto the last of their IRA for that purpose plus they also have a small burial policy, which wouldn't cover thing now they've had it so long. But I do like the idea of a small $10K one, need to check on that myself, since I don't think I have one anymore. But I'm still wondering who's paying for the independent living.
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If I were you, I would tell Dad that as of a certain date, you are no longer able to take care of him and his needs because of health issues. Have him pay for a full-time caretaker for all his bathing, dressing, meals, etc. for at least 3 months so he can see that people get paid for these things and he really shouldn't get any of it for free. They and you should at least get minimum wage for work done. A caretaker will ask for at least $10 an hour or more if you hire a company to supply the caretaker. Once he realizes how much it costs to perform caretaking duties, he should be more flexible about paying you to do the same work. Just tell him how much you want or find a caretaker to do it. Does the care take a lot of time? If so, you should be paid for your time if it replaces a job you could have taken had you not been busy with his care. I don't know what your reason is to avoid a gift compensation but a person can give, tax free, around $12,000 to each person per year according to the IRS rules. I would certainly check that just to make sure the amount is still correct and hasn't changed. Either way, your attorney can tell you which way is best. The payroll way will help you in the long run by adding to your social security account as wages earned and you will have to file a tax return. The 1099 will have to be handled either like supplemental income or as your business of being a caretaker. Filing a schedule C is easy and you can deduct all legitimate business expenses to offset your income. You say Dad isn't going to be at all happy with paying you. Would he balk at paying another caretaker? Ask him, why would he expect anyone to work taking care of him for hours upon hours, day after day, without compensation of some kind? Would he go to work for an employer, work all day, every day and say "no thanks" to the paycheck? Of course not! And he shouldn't expect anyone else to do it either. Be careful about pre-paying funeral expenses. I've read stories about people thinking they are taking care of their family so they won't have to go thru this ordeal only to find out the "pre-paid" expenses only covered a cheap casket, no music, no stone, no perpetual care, etc. Many people have been fleeced out of their money paying for something they never received. He needs to either set up a fund that will take care of his final expenses or just buy an insurance policy that will pay immediately upon death. Usually a $10K policy will cover all expenses. Check with the attorney before buying such a policy to make sure it meets your needs. Good luck in getting Dad on board with the caretaking payments.
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I didn't even think about the gifting issue, but we definitely want to avoid compensation being considered a gift. We actually do plan to sit down with an attorney, and we've made a list of questions to ask. I guess we need to go ahead and make an appointment. Dad isn't going to be at all happy at the thought of paying us anything whatsoever. Does anyone have an idea of what to charge and how to tell him that we need at least some compensation?
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NEVER set up a joint account. NEVER co-mingle funds.
If he pays you, he needs to set up a payroll or issue you a 1099, otherwise this is a "gift". You really should sit down with an Elder Law attorney for an hour and avoid making a big financial mess.
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Have a caretaker contract set up and yes, charge dad for his services. Get advice of an attorney. Dad needs to stop taking advantage of you and paying you is only fair. dad can prepay for his funeral - have him do that.
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