Caregiver Contracts On The Rise

A recent study by the AARP found that nearly a quarter of the adult population are providing voluntary care for family members and friends.  As the population ages and people live longer, this number is sure to rise.  To reward these caregivers, parents often would leave an unequal inheritance to the caregiver child.  Often these unequal inheritances would lead to family feuds.

One alternative to an unequal distribution to a caregiver is to hire the caregiver and pay them for their services.  This is accomplished by drafting a “caregiver contract”.  This option allows the elder to acknowledge the time, effort, and services provided, and possibly eliminate the feud inherent in unequal distributions at death.

Caregiver contracts, by listing what duties or services the caregiver will provide, will often open the lines of communication and encourage families to discuss the arrangements to care for the elder.  If there is family communication, most times additional family members will assist the caregiver in providing certain services.  This often times will minimize family disagreements pre- and post death. 

Be sure to discuss your personal situation with a qualified elder law attorney as there may be tax consequences  or if your goal is to qualify for medicaid benefits.

What If I Die Without A Will?

When discussing estate planning, I often hear the remark “I don’t need a Will”.  Many think that they don’t have a large enough estate, or that everything will automatically pass to their spouse.  That is not always the case.

If you die without a Will, Massachusetts law will control how your property will be distributed.  After payment of debts, expenses, administration and funeral costs, your property will be distributed as follows:

  • If the deceased leaves kindred but no children, the surviving spouse will get the first $200,000, plus one-half of the remaining personal and real property.  The balance will go to the kindred.
  • If the deceased leaves children, the surviving spouse will get one-half of the real and personal property and the balance will go to the children.
  • If the deceased leaves children but no spouse, all real and personal property will be distributed to the children.
  • If the deceased dies with no children or kindred, the surviving spouse will take all real and personal property.
  • If the deceased leaves no spouse, children or kindred, the estate passes to the Commonwealth.

Unless you have a valid Will at death, the State will determine exactly who receives your property.  Having a Will ensures that you, not the State, choose who receives your property.