Caregiver Agreements, What Are They?

March 14, 2012,

I am frequently asked about payment of family members who have assumed a primary caregiving role. While there is no one answer, there are a few key considerations

1) What does the parent need?
2) What are the tasks that the family member would be doing? Note that what is needed when they start might change drastically in six months or a year. Have some built in re-evaluations written in.
3) What is the time needed to accomplish these tasks?
4) Does the family member have the skills to be doing the tasks required?
5) Once the tasks are listed (be specific) and time needed (be somewhat flexible) – this would need to be written out and agreed upon by all the siblings.
6) Be sure to write in respite or time off for the family caregiver and include an “escape” clause. The escape clause allows the family caregiver to gracefully bow out of the tasks as they become more challenging or beyond their skills.
7) What do you do when the family caregiver gets sick – what is Plan B?
8) Do you have a Geriatric Care Manager to check on the plan of care to ensure quality of life for the elder and reduce stress for the caregiver?
9) Set a salary (based on the local hourly rate paid to the caregiver rather than the market rate charged by the agency).
10) Consult with a lawyer
11) Family caregivers need to be aware of tax implications. They will need to pay taxes. The best way would be to consult a bookkeeper to calculate the taxes, assist with the withholding and quarterly tax reporting. This also should be spelled out in the agreement. They might also agree to pay or not pay for vacation time, and health insurance, Be clear, especially if someone is giving up a job to care for the parent.
12) In the best-case scenario, another sibling or professional fiduciary would generate the checks. If the family member doing the care writes the checks they should be accountable to another – this could be a trustee, book keeper, accountant or financial institution.
13) Be sure to have homeowners insurance to cover the family caregiver’s time in employment – in case there is a work related injury.
(source: NAPGCM President, Linda Fodrini-Johnson).

Something to think about. -Audrey Miller

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