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Financial planning considerations for taking care of an in-law

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  • Avatar AFDentite 
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    In the next 5-10 years I anticipate having my mother-in-law move in with my family.  I do not have a detailed understanding of her current finances and I know I will need to have that conversation soon, but I wanted to get some general advice and recommendations for the big picture so I know what to ask and what I can do now to prepare.  What I do know is that she owns her current home and it is paid off (small condo ~$60,000).  I imagine she has some credit card debt, but I don’t know how much.  She has worked full time at probably slightly above minimum wage for the past 15 years or so and is still working (not sure what that will equate to in social security).  She is 60 years old.  I don’t believe she has any retirement savings.  She also has a history of MS (has been in remission for ~20yrs).  Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    #238218 Reply
    CordMcNally CordMcNally 
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    I would also investigate how it would affect your marriage and current family, too.

    “But investing isn’t about beating others at their game. It’s about controlling yourself at your own game.”
    ― Benjamin Graham, The Intelligent Investor

    #238258 Reply
    Liked by Vagabond MD
    Avatar Tim 
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    Tread softly. It sounds like you and your spouse feel an obligation to provide assistance. The big IF is how does your MIL view it? Some are grateful for assistance and some are fiercely private. I would have your spouse test the water. Eventually, power of attorney and basically complete control of her finances may be needed. Choices like selling the condo and moving in can be extremely easy or impossible.  Keep in mind, that assistance provided will only increase. It will actually greatly impact your life, you will have a “caregiver” responsibility that can become overwhelming. Just make saure you and your spouse are prepared for it. Once you both have agreed, MIL has to be signed up with the plan. Then its simple. Help MIL control all her finances and living arrangements. She will have preferences, but needs to be willing to take advice and have confidence that you both are looking out for her best interests. Any other siblings? That will complicate the tasks.

    #238265 Reply
    Avatar nephron 
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    Is she moving in for financial reasons or medical or social reasons?  unless she asks you to be involved in her finances, I probably would stay out of them.  Probably just see the moving in part as providing free housing and let her continue to manage her finances as she sees fit.    I would let you wife handle it if it needs to be handled.

    #238409 Reply
    Avatar molar roller 
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    Is she moving in for financial reasons or medical or social reasons?  unless she asks you to be involved in her finances, I probably would stay out of them.  Probably just see the moving in part as providing free housing and let her continue to manage her finances as she sees fit.    I would let you wife handle it if it needs to be handled.

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    Completely agree with this.  If your advice is needed, it will be solicited.  I would stay out of it so long as whatever financial assistance, if any, stays below the radar.  Frankly, I don’t see why it would not, as she would likely qualify for Medicaid now and Medicare soon, and her meager earnings probably mean pretty cheap lifestyle.

    Depending on your childcare needs, you may even come out ahead.  Certainly not something worth rocking the marriage boat over.

    #238486 Reply
    Lordosis Lordosis 
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    Certainly not something worth rocking the marriage boat over.

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    My boat would capsize well before anyone moves in with us.  My parents included.   I would be more interested in helping in a way that they can continue to live independently even if it was more expensive.  However that is just my opinion.

    If the OP is alright living with the MIL then it can have a wide range of need to knows.

    Is she going to be in a bedroom with the rest or in a separate section of the house?

    How independent will she be?

    Will she share most meals with the family?

    Does she have her own interests and hobbies or will she be along for the ride with everything you do?

    Are you expecting her to contribute in some way?  Making meals, paying utilities, watching kids?  Is she expecting this?

    Everyone has different relationships with their family and this is hard to judge with the information given.

    “Never let your sense of morals prevent you from doing what is right.”

    #238567 Reply
    Liked by Craigy
    Avatar Tim 
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    Cultural differences can impact these types of decisions.
    My spouse had an aunt that live with us for 30 years. Short story, the aunt took care of wife for 25 years and no option . Housing requirements always included separate specific accommodations for the aunt (bedroom, sitting/tv area, sewing machine and bathroom). Basically separate living quarters with shared kitchen and laundry. Absolutely zero problems.
    That last sentence is the key. It wasn’t skill, it was luck.

    #238594 Reply
    Craigy Craigy 
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    My boat would capsize well before anyone moves in with us.  My parents included.   I would be more interested in helping in a way that they can continue to live independently even if it was more expensive.  However that is just my opinion.

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    +1

    In the next 5-10 years I anticipate having my mother-in-law move in with my family.  I do not have a detailed understanding of her current finances and I know I will need to have that conversation soon, but I wanted to get some general advice and recommendations for the big picture so I know what to ask and what I can do now to prepare.  What I do know is that she owns her current home and it is paid off (small condo ~$60,000).  I imagine she has some credit card debt, but I don’t know how much.  She has worked full time at probably slightly above minimum wage for the past 15 years or so and is still working (not sure what that will equate to in social security).  She is 60 years old.  I don’t believe she has any retirement savings.  She also has a history of MS (has been in remission for ~20yrs).  Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

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    1st – why exactly do you anticipate her moving in?

    She owns her current home, sounds like a cheap home to maintain.

    If she’s worked full time for 15 years she should be getting some social security, even though it will be minimal.  Did she work earlier in her life too?

    Personally, I’d want to do everything I could to keep her comfortable where she is, vs have her sell her condo and move in.

    Is she planing on quitting work anytime soon?  If she keeps working til 70, that keeps her independent longer and bumps up her social security payment considerably.

    LEVEL 1 WCI FORUM MEMBER.

    #238675 Reply
    Liked by Lordosis
    Sajimone Sajimone 
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    My mom in law lives with us.  At first.. there were some growing pains but with time it ended up working out well.  Not sure if i could of done it so well with my own mom?   She takes care of our 4 kids well.. especially our two young boys.. 2, 4.  She does a lot of the cooking at her own leisure.. not expected.  She’s not tied down to us… she can travel anytime she wants to any of her cousins or siblings place in other states or countries.   I keep it simple in that she’s part of the family and I’ll cover all expenses.. food, travel, etc.  She’ll occasionally get grocery items on her own dime.  The kids really love having grandma in the house.  In regard to finances, I told my wife to keep track of her investments and accounts.  I prefer to keep finances separate.   I prefer not to know any of her finances.  The biggest issue we’ve had was actually more so with my wife!?   Unfortunately in the beginning when my mom in law moved in.. it felt like i was dealing with her daughter moreso than my wife?  That took a while for my wife to figure out she was wearing several hats and acknowledging her own mental state with living with her mom.  Occasionally it still comes up as an issue.  I think the more I said it.. the more she was cognizant of it.

    #238713 Reply
    Liked by Anne, Dreamgiver
    Avatar AFDentite 
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    I appreciate all the responses so far.  I suppose my expectation that she will move in with us is based on the feeling that none of my wife’s siblings are really in a position to take her in and she really has no one else to help her.  As long as she is able to work and continue to maintain her lifestyle as she is that is great and definitely what I hope to continue.  My main concern is that she has a relapse of her MS and is no longer able to work.  I love my mother-in-law and I don’t really see it as a worst case scenario for her coming to live with us.  I’m confident she would help with our kids/cook, etc and also be hands off.  Mainly, I think I just need to get the initial dialogue going with my wife on what it might entail for us, etc.  Thanks again for all your input.

    #238905 Reply
    Liked by Anne
    Vagabond MD Vagabond MD 
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    My boat would capsize well before anyone moves in with us.  My parents included.

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    x 100.

    My wife and I made a pact before we were married that this would be the case. The MILs (there are now three) are awful in their own ways and would be impossible to live with.

    "Wealth is the slave of the wise man and the master of the fool.” -Seneca the Younger

    #238916 Reply
    Liked by Lordosis
    Avatar Anne 
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    I appreciate all the responses so far.  I suppose my expectation that she will move in with us is based on the feeling that none of my wife’s siblings are really in a position to take her in and she really has no one else to help her.  As long as she is able to work and continue to maintain her lifestyle as she is that is great and definitely what I hope to continue.  My main concern is that she has a relapse of her MS and is no longer able to work.  I love my mother-in-law and I don’t really see it as a worst case scenario for her coming to live with us.  I’m confident she would help with our kids/cook, etc and also be hands off.  Mainly, I think I just need to get the initial dialogue going with my wife on what it might entail for us, etc.  Thanks again for all your input.

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    Does your wife get along well with her siblings and would having her come to live with you create any tension between the siblings? I’ve seen strange tensions develop between adult siblings–e.g. siblings who have no desire/intention/ability to help out get jealous or weird because another sibling takes mom/dad in.  Doesn’t make sense but human behavior is strange that way.  After you get the dialogue started with your wife she may want to get it started with her siblings just to make sure everyone is on the same page.

    Does your house have an accessible room/bathroom that could be used?

    #238995 Reply
    Avatar Tim 
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    “After you get the dialogue started with your wife she may want to get it started with her siblings just to make sure everyone is on the same page.”

    Typically, one sibling ends up carrying most if not all of the responsibilities as a caregiver or performing “guardianship” type tasks.
    Even when “agreed to”, resentment or feelings of being left out can develop. It can culminates with “It’s my mom, I should have a choice in the decision.”
    Philosophically, it’s very easy for a sibling to visit and conclude exactly what you need to do to fix a problem.
    They feel their “contribution” is letting you know “Mom” needs a remodeled bathroom, reclining chair, new mattress, and it goes on.
    Be prepared to welcome any help in getting the “Honey do list” accomplished. It’s human nature to want authority without responsibility.
    Your wife is the lead, you provide resources and care only as requested. Be the gracious SIL.

    #239095 Reply
    The White Coat Investor The White Coat Investor 
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    Here are a couple posts that you may find helpful.

    https://www.whitecoatinvestor.com/finances-aging-parents/

    https://www.whitecoatinvestor.com/cost-of-care-aging-parents/

    Site/Forum Owner, Emergency Physician, Blogger, and author of The White Coat Investor: A Doctor's Guide to Personal Finance and Investing
    Helping Those Who Wear The White Coat Get A "Fair Shake" on Wall Street since 2011

    #239357 Reply

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