Lots of folks will be heading home for the holidays in the next few days. For many, it will the first time they've seen family in a while.
These get-togethers also are a great opportunity for adult children of aging parents to make sure, tactfully and discreetly, that Mom and Dad are still doing well and are able to continue living on their own.
If you find that you do need to make some changes when it comes to care for older relatives, do your due diligence.
Not only could your decisions affect their physical and mental well-being, but ill-advised moves, especially when it comes to money, could create financial and tax trouble.
Difficult care-giving decisions: Unfortunately, some of us will discover, either this holiday season on in the coming months, that our older parents need more attention.
That could mean moving them into an eldercare facility, with the proper level of care for their needs.
Or it could mean relocating Mom and/or Dad to your own home.
Or you and your folks might be able to make a few adjustments that can keep them in their home, but with you or another caregiver checking in more often.
If your folks are able to continue living independently with just a bit more outside assistance, you'll obviously want to ensure that the person or people who will be checking in on them more regularly are up to the challenge.
You'll also want to make sure that they are honest.
Sadly, in some cases, older individuals are easy prey for ostensible caregivers who ignore their needs, rip them off or both.
Even more distressing, in some cases those questionable caregivers are relatives
Tax costs of questionable care giving: That happened to one elderly woman who ended up paying tax on income that her adult son pilfered from her.
The woman, who suffered from dementia, relied on her son to handle her affairs. Instead, according to Kiplinger Tax Letter, the man allegedly exploited her financially, using her retirement benefits and other income that was deposited into her bank account for his own personal purposes.
The son eventually was removed as his mom's caregiver.
By then, though, she was facing a tax bill on the funds that her son had used.
The woman's daughter argued that mom shouldn't owe tax since her brother used the funds for his own benefit and their mother never actually received the income.
Sorry, said the District Court, which held that mom received the moneys before her son misappropriated the funds.
That means she owes tax on money.
No family is immune: I'm not big on airing family, or more specifically the hubby's extended family's dirty financial laundry, but this situation reminded me of when we saw family funds mismanagement up close and personal.
A distant uncle passed away. His son was named executor and charged with, among other fiduciary tasks, of sending periodic trust payments to the hubby, my sister-in-law and several of their cousins, who happened to be the executor's minor children.
He delivered the distributions to the hubby and his sister, but decided to keep his own kids' amounts.
When his actions were discovered — relatives do talk, after all — he was removed from his estate oversight duties.
The lesson we all learned is don't be so convinced that your family is peerless when it comes to doing what is right, especially when money is involved. Financial stress and/or greed can change people you thought you knew well.
Check, double check and then check again on any person, family or not, who's entrusted with taking physical and/or financial care of loved ones, especially elderly relatives who aren't as sharp as they used to be.
And keep checking in and checking out that caregiver out periodically, just in case.
You also might find these items of interest:
- Tax help to take care of aging (and injury prone) parents
- Attention Baby Boomers: Your aging parents could be in financial trouble
- Tax law changes mean that taxpayers with dependents of all ages need to check withholding