Children caring for their parents

Parents and children should clearly define expectations and eliminate misunderstandings.

I’m touched regularly by the goodness of the families I work with in my Elder Law practice. With a large percentage of the population aging, we see more and more adult children who are coming alongside their older parents as primary caregivers.

In years past, a large portion of a family’s wealth was lost to the high cost of assisted-living facility care. We often encounter clients who are thinking outside the box and retiring early from different professions to go to work caring for mom and dad.

Many older adults are electing to stay in their homes where they want to be and receive personal care from a family member. Under Medicaid rules, if a child cares for his or her parents in their home for two years, the parents can transfer their home to the child and still be eligible to receive Medicaid benefits with no period of ineligibility.

When a child provides care to a parent, there are several advantages to having a Personal Care Service Agreement in place:

  • Clearly defining the caregiver role and tasks can help set expectations and eliminate misunderstandings down the road.
  • Contractually agreeing to a wage may also prevent other family members from becoming concerned about the transfer of mom and dad’s assets to the person providing care.
  • If at some point Medicaid benefits are accessed to help pay for facility care, a Personal Care Service Agreement is an essential part of Medicaid and Estate Planning.

Federal and State government programs support and incentivize the idea of families providing care to older adults. Accordingly, there are mechanisms in the law that essentially provide for a transfer of wealth to family members, rather than assisted living facilities, in exchange for providing care. And more importantly, it seems to result in better outcomes for the whole family in terms of health and happiness.

Tom Packer is an Elder Law Attorney serving all of Southeast Idaho. As part of his law practice, Tom offers Life Care Planning to deal with the challenges created by long-term illness, disability and incapacity. If you have a question about a Senior’s legal, financial or healthcare needs, please call us.