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This woman was hired through craigslist and wasn't fully candid about her approach to life until over a month after taking residence (caring for mom with dementia, only the two of them live in the house). Part of it involved a sibling not allowing frank screening during the initial phone interview, but that complicates this question too much.


Tax avoidance combined with some apparently radical anti-government views (full extent & practice unknown) is driving her anti-contract mindset, but she's been good otherwise and we're trying to figure out if forcing a contract would wreck the working balance. We're technically going on blind trust, based on nothing outwardly dishonest about her. The nearest one among us is 300 miles away from mom's house.


From web searches: "According to the IRS, if a privately hired / independent caregiver is paid more than $2,100 per year (in 2019), they are considered a household employee, not an independent contractor. Thus, the family hiring the independent caregiver takes on all the responsibilities of being an employer, which includes payroll and taxes."


It would make our lives easier if she didn't become an "employee" but it leaves all parties unprotected if things go sour. One pragmatic problem is that some household duties can't be defined without a contract. This may cause future friction if she doesn't want to do chore X or Y, even if it's not that difficult and shouldn't require hiring outsiders.


Is it reasonable or common for non-family live-in caregivers to shun written contracts?

I don't know the answer to your question, but...

1. How do you know it's going well?

2. How will you get her to leave when mom dies/needs to go to a NH?

3. How will you account for the under the table payments when mom needs Medicaid for placement in a NH?

4. If she is willing to cheat on paying her taxes, what other dishonest things is she capable of? Using mom's credit cards? Convincing mom to sign over assets, leave her the house?

Just some food for thought.
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PeakShale Nov 5, 2021
We're in daily or weekly contact and have remote cameras, with no sign of anything wrong. She'd be evicted already (ideally) if there were bad signs, so this is a more subtle situation of not rocking the boat when someone may be as good as it gets for actual care.

You must mean Medicare, not Medicaid, and I've read about that concern.

She's already trusted with handling some aspects of money, and it's being monitored via remote banking sessions. There are too many other details to give here.

The gist of my question is how common is lack of a contract and what are the typical reasons given? I'm just surprised it's not legally mandated.
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The things that jumped out at me in your post were:

* ”hired through craigslist”
* “wasn't fully candid”
* “Tax avoidance”
* “blind trust”

There is no good here. No formal background check of any sort, I assume. No relative nearby to regularly check in. Alone with your mother who has dementia.

A contract may be the least of your problems.
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PeakShale Nov 5, 2021
It's just not that stark but I know how it seems from limited info here.

We did enough of a background check to get the gist of things. A formal one could be done at any time. This is a case where trust has been earned (so far) and I'm keeping watch for any flukes.
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BarbBrooklyn is correct on all fronts. The contract protects all the parties involved. I'm not familiar with housing rules as they relate to live-in caregivers, but in some states that living arrangement ends with the caregiving and maybe you wouldn't have to evict her if she doesn't leave on her own. In your case you couldn't even prove she was a caregiver since there's no contract and she's getting paid in cash.

Since your profile mentions that your mom has dementia, does this caregiver have any experience working with such people? This would definitely be an important qualification Then there's the vaccination issue and I'm going to guess this person probably isn't, so there's that danger for your mom (and I don't want to derail this post, I realize people who have been vaccinated are getting the virus as well). Would this caregiver even take your mom to a medical appointment to get a vaccine? In fact, who is taking your mom to her appointments and keeping track of what is said and done and then following up for her?

Your profile says that you live hundreds of miles away with no other siblings local or even in state. I'm hoping you (or another sibling) are your mom's DPoA, and that you've taken measures to protect your mom's financial resources and sensitive information. Your mom is vulnerable and IMO this current arrangement will eventually become a real headache for you and sketchy for your mom. If I were in your position I'd do what it takes to move her close to me, whether she is on board with that or not. The caregiving arrangement can't be onerous to the caregiver and this has all the hallmarks of maybe moving in that direction. Better to improve the situation now than having to try to do it in a crisis.

In my family we've used a caregiving agency because their people are screened, paid and reported legally, can provide subs and aids who are appropriately qualified for different levels of care, and can be easily replaced or fired. Also, if your mom's live-in caregiver always works in cash she won't have much SS to support herself as she gets to her own senior years. Not to mention she's not paying into the system yet will likely need the resources of Medicare and Medicaid herself. I bet she'll gladly use both.

Not sure about your mom's financial resources but if there's any chance she'll need Medicaid, her ability to qualify will need to be protected. This current arrangement may endanger that. You can consult with a Medicaid Planner for her state to figure this out, especially if her state has a 5-year "look back" period for the application.

Long-distance caregiving is difficult on many levels, and I'm sure you're doing the best you can. I encourage you to look past today and into your mom's probable future. It won't take much for your mom to have a fall or stroke and then the poop really hits the fan. Better to do a little more work now than suffer the very stressful consequences later. I wish you much success in working out a solution for your mom and family.
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PeakShale Nov 5, 2021
She does have dementia care experience but keeps things on a less formal level. It's tricky because she seems capable in most areas and shows the patience needed for the situation. It's certain details that are vague.

We had a bad experience with a licensed agency that seemed to do poor screening. This was a test of one-night of care, earlier. In other words, the current lady may be as good as it gets, just with caveats.

I guess contract percentages nationwide are hard to know, and contracts aren't legally mandatory.
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Besides IRS you have Medicaid if ever needed. They will question large amounts of money leaving Moms acct ever week. A contract wil, protect Mom.

Then there is everything Brooklyn said. There are a number of posters that had a hard time getting the live-in Caretaker to leave because there was no contract. You really need one in place. I would write one up and have a lawyer review it. It should be notarized. Your labor dept should have rules concerning aides. They get time and half for anything over 40hrs and time off.

Because this woman doesn't want a contract, for me that is a red flag. For the money Mom is putting out for round the clock care, for my peace of mind, I would feel better if she was in a nice Assisted Living near a family member. If she has a home, sell it and use the proceeds to pay for her AL.
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Peak, at 10-12 K per month for Memory care or NH and perhaps 15K for at home care, you can spend down quite a fortune pretty quickly.

When my mom entered a NH after a dementia dx and a broken hip, we resigned ourselves, reading that most folks only live 6 months in such facilities, even good ones.

My mom thrived and lived well for nearly 5 years. She was not poor by any means, but we got pretty close to needing Medicaid funding.

Medicare (which everyone is entitlted to after age 65) will pay for a few weeks of rehab after a qualifying hospitalization.

Medicaid is something you need to apply for when/if she gets within about 20k of running out of funds.

A visit to an eldercare attorney would male this all much clearer.
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"nothing outwardly dishonest about her"
Tax evasion
not wanting a contract
not candid
I see red flags all over this.
You have a great excuse to change this (and possibly look for a new caregiver.
The start of a new year is right around the corner.
Tell your employee that your lawyer has advised that a contract be drawn up spelling out the duties and level of care that "Ms. XXX" requires.
Also filling out paperwork for the IRS and all other papers required.
This all is being done in case "Ms. XXX" declines to the point where she needs more specialized care and has depleted her funds that have been set aside for her care and an application for Medicaid needs to be completed. All the paperwork will show that all funds have been used properly and that no monies have been gifted.
Also do a complete background check
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PeakShale Nov 7, 2021
I know why responders are looking at worst case scenarios, but it's a much more subtle situation. References were interviewed, etc. There are certainly some secret traits, but they'd be revealed if asked about.

A blatantly evasive persona would have me far more concerned, and I know about long-cons and most of life's pitfalls. (Off-topic: Many voters trusted an unashamed con man to handle far more responsibility, so it's all relative.)
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Try asking the caregiver what her reasons are for not wanting to go contract with you.
She may be on Medicaid or disability but doesn't get enough to live on so she has to earn money and the only way to do it is under-the-table so it doesn't screw up her benefits.
When you talk to her don't be judgmental about her not paying taxes and how that's illegal. Believe me, if you don't make paying her in cash an issue, she won't give you problems. Did you check her work references and talked to other families who have hired her in the past? This is always the best indicator of how good a caregiver she will be.
Also, be realistic about things. No one takes a live-in caregiving job for an elder with dementia unless they're pretty down on their luck. Keep this in mind and don't be judgmental.
I have done private care for a long time and have never had a contract with a family. We've always just talked about what they expect and I explain that situations change very quickly with caregiving and if we need to re-negotiate things like the pay for instance because a higher level of care becomes necessary at some point. Things like this. I don't do live-in work but you could come to an arrangement with your worker about how long she can stay if mom passes or has to go into facility care.
If you take care of the caregiver properly, she'll work out fine.
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PeakShale Nov 5, 2021
Yes, references were called and all the rest. There's just a dynamic where it might rock the boat too much if we prod her, but it wasn't my choice for things to not be above-board from the start. That gets into another sibling's involvement, which I'm not detailing here for privacy.,

Do you have specific reasons for not wanting contracts that protect all parties? If things go wrong, have you relied on other legal avenues, like lawsuits or insurance?
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The ones that want to get paid under the table all want to work without a contract. Because a contract is proof they were working and that's the last thing they want. They are violating many laws, probably getting public assistance, because they have no income.

At the very least get a copy of her state issued ID and a second form of ID. If she doesn't want to do that, I wouldn't trust her with my mom.
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Sarah3 Nov 7, 2021
Did you forget the person they’re working for is not exactly a bystander in that! The person who hires them would be considered as being more responsible for this type of arrangement
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No, I mean Medicaid.

Medicare doesn't pay for long term care (except for rehab) and is not means tested.

I mean Medicaid, when mom runs out of money and needs Nuraing Home care (at 12 k permonth). There is a 5 year lookback. You will need to account for how her funds have been spent.

I hope you know about the ins and outs of Medicaid in your mom's state.
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PeakShale Nov 5, 2021
She's not poor by any means, but I do see that the two things can overlap. It's just a complex situation,
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I am a caregiver of sort. I check in with clients weekly to see how things are going. I sit and have a conversation with them for about 1 hour, check for fresh food, count pills to make sure meds are being taken, looks or fall and safety hazards, clean clothes, bedding, etc. if you can find someone that does such a job in your area. That might be helpful.I also pay bills for some, check credit card receipts, etc but have access to only the monthly allowance, no more.
I have one client that didn’t want me under contract because of knowing each other for many years. However, we hand write one up and both signed it to cover him and me. I don’t want kids who didn’t visit to come and question me in the future. When he needed to add night time care, I called the agency and digitally signed the contract on his behalf.
Especially as dementia progresses, things can get sketchy. my own mom thought I was forging her name. It’s good my dad was alive to know it wasn’t true.
In my opinion, a contract and proof of ID is the least of what you need. It doesn’t have to be a long drawn out paper. Keep it simple.
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Sarah3 Nov 7, 2021
”I didn’t want kids who never visited coming to question me”—- this is among certain demographics a very common thing unfortunately the adult kids who played little to no role suddenly want to meddle and check on you - they didn’t care enough to ever hardly visit so their concern is disingenuous and is about making themselves feel important
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