The Legal Corner by Sam A. Moak: Should You Have a Caregiver Agreement?

Featured Articles Guides The Legal Corner

The information in this column is not intended as legal advice but to provide a general understanding of the law.  Any readers with a legal problem, including those whose questions are addressed here, should consult an attorney for advice on their particular circumstances.

It was recently brought to my attention that while many adult children are serving as caretakers for their aging parents, very few receive reimbursement for their time or trouble.  I am not surprised by this and personally feel this is one’s obligation to their parents.  Many children and grandchildren feel that helping their aging relative is a privilege, or perhaps a responsibility, and not something that they would ever dream of taking money for.  However, this situation is a common area for discord among siblings. 

I have seen situations where a family member suggest they be paid for caring for their elderly parent(s).  This reflects the views of many adult children who have elderly parents to care for. 

Creating a caretaking agreement between relatives is something that benefits both the caretaker and the elderly relative.

However, a financial arrangement between a caretaker and an elderly relative can actually be a way to protect the older person.  There may come a time when they have to go into a nursing home and wish to qualify for Medicaid.  While I believe Medicaid should be an avenue of last resort, the caretaker agreement could help them qualify. 

The financial arrangement must be an official one.  Any money given to a caretaker outside of the legal caretaker agreement could be construed as simply a gift.  This may cause a disqualification or delay in receiving benefits. 

Although you may feel that you would gladly care for your mother or father for free, consider the benefits of a caregiver agreement.  Talk to your attorney about whether a contract of this kind could be useful to your family.  All situations are not equal, but if they are close to qualifying a caregiver agreement may be the ticket.   

Sam A. Moak is an attorney with the Huntsville law firm of Moak & Moak, P.C.  He is licensed to practice in all fields of law by the Supreme Court of Texas, is a Member of the State Bar College, and is a member of the Real Estate, Probate and Trust Law Section of the State Bar of Texas.