In theory, it all sounds simple. Your aging mother needs professional home care, so you and your siblings will all need to pitch in and pay their fair share. Realistically, splitting caregiving costs amongst family members isn’t always so simple. Negotiating financial details often leads to finger-pointing as childhood rivalries resurface. While putting family differences aside, it is possible to ask loved ones to share caregiving costs without being critical. Here’s how to get yours to say “yes” when everyone’s household budget weighs in the balance.
The Cost of Being a Family Caregiver
In addition to taking a physical and emotional toll, caregiving can also deplete your bank account. According to a recent study from AARP, nearly 80% of informal caregivers surveyed reported routine out-of-pocket expenses while caring for loved ones. The average annual amount spent on caregiving was $7,242, or around 26% of household income.
Of those caregivers surveyed, roughly half reported using personal funds to pay their loved one’s household expenses. Respondents that spent more than 10 hours per week assisting loved ones typically also spent more of their income taking care of older relatives.
Additionally, approximately half of all caregivers in the AARP survey mentioned that they had experienced financial difficulties which caused them to initiate belt-tightening measures or dip into personal savings.
How to Split the Caregiving Tab Fairly
Divvying up the tab to care for an aging-in-place loved one can be tricky, especially when family members have widely varying incomes or live closer to the care recipient than others.
Fortunately, reaching a consensus without damaging your relationships is possible by taking these steps:
Seek professional advice.
An attorney or financial planner who specializes in elder care issues can help you put family baggage aside – at least temporarily. These professionals will also know how to structure financial and legal documents properly for things like helping your loved one qualify for Medicaid in the future. Two reliable online resources to start with are the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors.
Use the care recipient’s money first.
If your elderly relative has the funds, they should pay first before other family members. Using this approach will prove to be valuable if the care recipient wants to receive Medicaid payments for caregiving costs in the future. To qualify for Medicaid, an individual cannot have more than $2,000 in assets, excluding their home, vehicle, and a few other big-ticket items.
Many seniors spend nearly all their savings over five years (“spend-down” period) to meet Medicaid eligibility requirements. However, when someone funnels money to them during the spend-down period – for example, an adult child – this can cause red flags when applying for Medicaid.
Go the percentage route.
Whenever there’s a wide disparity in family incomes, ask everyone to pay a percentage of the monthly care rather than the same dollar amount. Start by adding together everyone’s adjusted gross income from their latest tax returns.
Next, divide each family member’s income by the total to determine the individual caregiving percentages. For example, your percentage might be 25%. Finally, apply each percentage to the total monthly caregiving costs. If that figure is $2,000, your monthly share will be $500 ($2,000 X .25).
Get everything in writing.
In cases where you all have negotiated a straightforward agreement, have someone draft a simple business partnership agreement document using a site like www.nolo.com. If you plan to pay a family member to provide care, hire a lawyer to handle any tax issues (payroll tax withholding, “nanny tax,” employment taxes, etc.) that might come due when least expected.
After all, out-of-pocket caregiving costs can be challenging enough without a “home visit” by the IRS!
Budget-Friendly Home Care Plans for Seniors
When you or your loved one need assistance, contact us. We are a fully licensed and insured home care provider with highly trained professionals who are experts at delivering the nurturing that your loved one deserves. While serving as an extended family in your senior’s home, our compassionate caregivers can perform duties like light housekeeping, personal care, dementia care, companionship care, medication reminders, and even live-in and 24-hour care.
Our agency focuses on maintaining your loved one’s quality of life, along with their dignity, self-esteem, and independence. For your added convenience, all our in-home services can be individually personalized into an affordable package when and where you need them! Please visit us online to learn more about us or schedule a FREE initial consultation for a senior in our service area.