Sibling rivalry and the ability to push each other's buttons may vanish or lessen when children grow up and have their own lives, but the care of aging parents, and the stress it brings to adult children, can test even the best of sibling relationships. Many times, long-forgotten rivalries and arguments are reconstituted by the stress of making arrangements to care for an ill or aging parent.
We have many clients who share the responsibility with siblings of caring for aging parents. The degree of care runs a wide spectrum, ranging from children agreeing to regularly check in on parents to children providing care to parents in the children's homes.
Siblings can help by considering a Personal Care Agreement and/or Room and Board Agreement with a parent and the other siblings. We have helped a number of families minimize discord by drafting Personal Care Agreement and Room and Board Agreement. These Agreements are tailored to each family's situation and document the services that one or more children will provide to a parent and whether there will be a charge for these services. These documents can also help pass money from a parent to a child without jeopardizing eligibility for Medicaid long-term care benefits if the parent needs to be placed into a care facility in the future. One typical scenario we see in our practice is one child providing room and board to a parent, but other siblings come to care for the parent at certain times to provide the primary child with a break.
Parents can help through careful consideration of whom to name as agents under power of attorney. A financial agent will make financial transactions on behalf of a person, while a medical agent will make medical decisions. Parents should not approach this with the goal of dividing responsibilities so no child feels left out-the proper approach is to consider who is best suited, emotionally and intellectually, for the job. A child whose talent is organizing information and keeping great financial records may be a natural choice for a financial agent, but that child may not be well-equipped to handle medical decisions, so name your agents based on their abilities and talents. Only name co-Agents for either power of attorney if you sincerely believe they can work together during a time of stress.
It is difficult to watch a parent grow old and frail. The difficulty can be multiplied when stress reconstitutes childhood rivalries. Whether you are a child or a parent, we can assist you in minimizing discord by creating Personal Care Agreement, Room and Board Agreement, and powers of attorney.