Given the still-fragile economy, a growing number of families are compensating relatives who serve as caregivers to elders, elder-law attorneys say.
But to avoid stoking family tensions or running afoul of Medicaid eligibility requirements, it's important to draft a formal employment agreement--and disclose the arrangement to the entire family.
According to a recent report by the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP, about 43.5 million Americans look after someone age 50 or older, up 28% from 2004. While no one tracks how many are paid, elder-law attorneys say the numbers are rising.
Howard S. Krooks, an elder-law attorney who practices in Boca Raton, Fla., and Rye Brook, N.Y., says nearly all his clients who serve as caregivers are compensated. Such cases currently comprise about 20% of his workload, a figure that has doubled since before the recession. "When people are out of work," he says, "they are more likely to ask for payment."