First of all, we are a family that DOESN’T discuss money, in general. My husband and I both make a decent living, but we are still paying for college loans as our son is ready to go to college himself. (College loans whole separate mess.)
My brother makes a GREAT living, with no debt, and nothing but disposable income. I only know this because he dotes on our son tremendously, for which I am grateful. (He pays thousands of dollars for him to go on trips around the world, or buys him the latest ___ gadget...) So my son isn’t impacted by our financial state. But we could never ask my brother for money. Our family just doesn’t do that. He also lives about 6-7 hours away and isn’t part of Mom’s care.
I have had to leave my job in order to care for Mom. She has lived with us in an in-law apartment we built for the last 13 years. She had to move into our part of the house 6 months ago when she could no longer climb stairs or be left unsupervised at all. So we have had to use money from an estate account that was left by my grandmother. This was done with the permission of my aunt, my mother’s only sister, who jointly inherited this estate, which includes their childhood home, stocks, etc.
So here’s he rub.
I feel like every penny I spend is scrutinized by my family. We are not spending money willy-nilly. My aunt urges me to get extra help, but I feel like she thinks I am wasting the money when I have to hire people to stay with Mom because I need to go away for a few days for an event for my son. Or if I just plain NEED A BREAK and do a 12 hour getaway with my husband. (It’s my only chance not to be on watch overnight, and eat a meal with my husband one-on-one!) I have a caregiver that comes in 3 days a week for 4 hours each day so I can run errands, or take a nap so I can be awake to watch her all night.
So is it that I feel guilty for spending money on myself this way? Technically it isn’t necessary for her care. I feel like I am being judged by people that are not in my position. They have NO IDEA what being home all day and caregiving is like. From the outside, it looks like I sit at home all day watching tv and napping! My brother and my aunt swing in for a visit, then leave again to go back to their carefree lives. I know they ‘feel’ bad because they can’t be here to help, but they have their lives to lead. What about me?
Here’s the biggest question I have.
So when my mother does pass, my brother and I will inherit my mother’s portion of the estate from my grandmother. My aunt and brother won’t want to sell the house or liquidate any of the other assets. They don’t need the money. My husband and I want to move, pay off our loans (FINALLY) and start our lives as truly empty-nesters. We plan on having a house with 3 bedrooms so the family is ALWAYS WELCOME in our home, but the day to day burdens that we have shouldered for many years now would be gone. We need the money from the estate in order to do this.
Any money we had saved went to my mother’s care even before the tougher effects of dementia set in. We bore this burden without asking for financial help because that’s what our family does. But at the end of the day, we have no savings left, have student debt and no equity left in our home all because we took on the care of my mom when she moved in with us 13 years ago.
I wouldn’t trade the time I have had with my Mom, nor the help she gave us in caring for my son. Our financial support of her all those years felt like the right thing to do.
So is it wrong to feel like we should be able to access the money we need in order to move on to the next stage in our lives? But they may not be able to buy us out of the house and stocks without having to sell. Plus, by the time my mother passes, we will have used almost all of the estate account’s savings. Should the money spent on Mom’s care be her part of the estate? My thinking is yes. In that case, we would stand to have a very small portion of what is left. But my husband thinks not, since my aunt said to use the money for her care.
I am so frustrated because I can’t make any plans for our future because of the unknowns of finances! The future dream is the only thing that keeps me going on really bad days. We need this fresh start. But how do I even begin the conversation with the family when we don’t discuss money? The conversation about money for mom’s care was painful and awkward. We also want to sell the things that she accumulated over the years. (Think restrained hoarding of truly valuable items) my aunt and brother don’t ever let go of anything. How do we address this? They would just want to keep everything, even if it just went into storage. But they don’t need the money and don’t let go of anything, ever. My husband and I are ready to reduce and de clutter our lives.
They will not understand this mentality and will think we are ungrateful for not holding on to every last momento and personal treasure.