Caregiver Contracts

It's natural for adult children to help care for their aging parents, but it's often helpful to clarify the details of the caring relationship to avoid misunderstandings and conflicts between family members. A Caregiver Contract is essentially an employment contract between aging parents and their children. It is drawn up after thoughtful conversations between parents, their children, and their attorney.

What Does a Caregiver Contract Cover?

A Caregiver Contract designates who will serve as a loved one’s initial caregiver, and provides for a back-up caregiver in the event the initial caregiver is no longer able or willing to serve. The contract also answers questions like:

  • What services will the caregiver provide?
  • How will the caregiver be compensated--hourly fee, monthly stipend, lump sum based on years of service, additional bequest from the parents?
  • How will the family communicate about the parents' care issues?
  • How will conflicts with the caregiver be resolved?
  • Under what circumstances and how will the caregiver's services be terminated?

In addition to clarifying expectations and preserving relationships, Caregiver Contracts are essential for Medicaid planning, making sure families don't need to spend down funds paid to family caregivers in order to qualify for Medicaid benefits.

Protecting Parents and Preserving Family Harmony

Nationally, 1 in 4 households provide care for an older adult, but in Kent County, that number is 1 in 3 households. This arrangement has blessings, to be sure, but it also has costs: 35% of caregivers end up leaving paid work to care for a parent, resulting in lost wages, Social Security and retirement contributions, not to mention work hours lost while the caregiver is still employed.

Additionally, conflicts can arise between family members due to stress, guilt, and the financial burden of caring for elderly loved ones. There may also be communication breakdowns between parents and children or between siblings that create rifts, which can be difficult to repair. A Caregiver Contract addresses these issues upfront and reduces your desires to writing to eliminate these potential problems, keeping all parties on the same page by clarifying your expectations and responsibilities.

To learn more about how a Caregiver Contract might benefit your family, feel free to download our Caregiver Contract Pre-Planning Questionnaire and then schedule a consultation with a member of our Elder Law Solutions team. You can contact us online or by phone at 616-458-3994.

Elder Law Solutions Team: Brian J. Plachta, Bryan D. Reeder, Jeffrey M. Black, Richard J. Cross, Vicki A. Poleni, MSW

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