By Deloughery Law Office, PLC. of Deloughery Law, PLC

If you ask most people where they want to spend their final days, they will usually say that they would prefer to stay at home as long as possible. The reality, however, is that as a person becomes older they will require assistance from someone. It’s only natural that one of those adult kids stepped in when this time comes.

Here’s the challenge: Usually only one of the kids is going to become the caretaker. This raises all kinds of issues. Will the parent move in with the adult child who will be the caretaker? Do the other kids get along with that person? Will the caretaking child threaten to put the parent in a nursing home unless the parent transfers title to the house or bank accounts to that child? Does everyone trust each other?
The fact is that it is possible for a caregiver to convince the older person to change the estate plan and give more to the caretaking child than to the other children. The caretaking child says this only makes sense because he or she is giving up gainful employment (by tending to the parent rather than working at a job) and it is “only fair”.

These can be very sensitive situations and the appropriate solution depends on the circumstances. If the family can be brought to a consensus, then traditional estate plan documents can often provide a framework for decision-making. These documents include using a health-care power of attorney, a general power of attorney, and sometimes a trust.

If there is a high degree of distrust or intense emotions involved, then it is probably appropriate to appoint a neutral third party as a guardian and conservator. I usually recommend using a licensed fiduciary in these circumstances. A fiduciary is a specially trained and licensed person who is experienced in dealing with high conflict situations.

An older person with declining health can be very vulnerable and susceptible to making financial and other decisions in favor of the caretaker. Ultimately the goal is to make sure that the older person is being well taken care of and protected.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is made available for general informational purposes only, and is not intended to constitute specific legal advice or to be a substitute for advice from qualified counsel. For that reason, you should not act or refrain from acting based on any information in this article without first obtaining advice from professional counsel qualified in the applicable subject matter and jurisdictions.

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