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Family Caregivers

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Family Caregivers are the primary source of Senior care in the United States.  There are estimated to be over 50 million family caregivers providing an estimated $300 billion in uncompensated care services. For information and resources that can help go to the Family Caregiver Alliance.  This national association has a wealth of resources.

There is a new trend to compensate family caregivers.  This compensation is either coming from the person receiving care, other family members or state organizations.  Whether it be for estate planning purposes, maintaining an equitable load among siblings, managing medicaid spenddown issues, or taking advantage of state programs, paying a family member as a caregiver makes sense

Formalizing the pay process rather than relying on lump sum payments or possible inheritance payments can help avoid family misunderstandings.  It can dramatically reduce the stress levels of everyone involved.

Documenting this process and associated understandings is done in a Family Caregiver Agreement.  This is a formal document that outlines the roles and expectations of all concerned parties.  If it is likely the senior may need to eventually move into a nursing home and use medicaid to pay for the nursing home it is extremely important that the Family Caregiver Agreement be drafted by an experienced eldercare attorney.

Once a Family Caregiver Agreement is established it is important that a regular payroll be established and administered.  If this is done informally it is extremely likely that any payments received will be considered by the Internal Revenue Service and/or State agencies to be gifts rather than compensation.  There is currently a Massachusetts court case where a nurse daughter received in excess of $200,000 over the course of 5 years for caring for her mother.  The state is now claiming that was a gift.


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