I am my sister’s caregiver. She doesn’t have the ability to manage her affairs. Our brother – her only other relative – lives far away. I handle bills, take her to the doctor and manage her finances. Our brother is not helping at all! I feel frustrated. Can I be paid for my time?
– Cranky on Coronation
Dear Cranky on Coronation:
I understand your frustration. I see this a lot where one family member (often a child), takes primary responsibility as Agent or Trustee. These caregivers often feel under-appreciated and burned out.
The first step is to look at the estate planning documents. Are there provisions in the documents addressing compensation to the Agent or Trustee? If not, California law allows the Agent or Trustee to receive a “reasonable compensation” for their time.
With the help of an attorney, you can determine a “reasonable compensation” for your circumstances. If you are going to pay yourself, it is critical that you keep very good records of your time, as this might be shared with the other beneficiaries of the estate at your sister’s death.
Many caregivers serving in an official capacity forget to keep excellent records of the income and expenses of the estate, and also forget to adequately track their time, which could lead to all sorts of family problems later.