There will come a time when a family will recognize that an ailing or elderly member of that family needs assistance. Sometimes, the help they need is more than just occasional – it requires daily care in order for someone to thrive. But, the question often comes up about who will actually provide such care, and usually the answer is a family member (and often an adult child). One sibling may automatically default to caregiver of their ailing parent, or one may be selected based on their proximity to the family member in need. There may be a family member with less personal needs (such as no spouse or family to care for); therefore, they default to becoming the full-time caregiver.
The individual who provides such care is also making a personal sacrifice – and one that is not financially or even emotionally easy to deal with. He or she may have to give up a job, including benefits (health insurance, retirement, etc.). He or she may have to forgo relationships and even isolate from others in order to take care of the loved one. This person is sacrificing much more than a few hours of the day; in fact, he or she is sacrificing months or years of life. One way to protect the caregiver who is making such sacrifice is through a personal care agreement. These agreements, also known as elder care contracts or family caregiver contracts, offer family members a little security that they will not suffer undue financial hardship when making such sacrifices.
What is the Personal Care Agreement?
This legal agreement is between a family member who agrees to become the caretaker, and the person receiving the care. The agreement is drawn up to clarify what tasks are expected of the family member in return for stated compensation amounts. It can help avoid any family conflicts regarding money and how that money will change hands in forms of payments. When contracting with family, an official agreement should always be treated as a legal document; therefore, an attorney should draft said agreement and ensure that it is valid in accordance with Florida laws. The agreement should also state where the money is going and the specific services provided for that monetary compensation. In addition, the agreement should offset potential confusion among other family members who are concerned about bequests to heirs – and avoid any misunderstandings later in the reduction of money that could be inherited.
The Components of a Well-Drafted Personal Care Agreement
The agreement should contain three main basic requirements, including:
- The agreement is in writing. No oral contracts should be used in such sensitive situations.
- The payment must be for all care provided and stated as such in the agreement. It cannot be for services already provided. Instead, it will focus on services provided in the future.
- The compensation for care must be reasonable and in competition with similar compensation for jobs in the area. It should match the reasonable number of tasks performed and not feature an outrageous amount – whether too small or too large.
The agreement must also contain specifics in order to be valid, such as:
- The date when the care began
- Description of all services provided
- How often services are provided (including days of the week and hours)
- Location of services
- Statement that the terms of the agreement can be modified only by a mutual agreement in writing
- How much and when the caregiver will be compensated
- How long the agreement will remain in effect
- Signatures by both parties (the caregiver and care receiver)
Have an Attorney Draft Your Personal Care Agreement
While you may think that your agreement is valid, all it takes is one missed step or the wrong wording to invalidate an agreement. To protect yourself as well as the loved one receiving your care, speak with a family attorney from Beller & Bustamante, P.L. by calling 904-288-4414. You can also request your consultation by filling out our online contact form.