Legal Advice To Help Build Your Future

Preventing family disputes over making a caregiver a beneficiary

On Behalf of | Mar 4, 2024 | Estate Planning

No one wants their legacy to be marred by family squabbles or – worse – litigation after they’re gone. However, maybe you’re planning to take steps in your estate planning that you know will be unpopular and may even give loved ones grounds to question whether you did so knowingly and willingly.

One decision that many people make in their senior years is to include their caregiver as a beneficiary. As more older Americans choose to “age in place” in their homes rather than move to assisted living facilities, non-family caregivers are becoming an important part of people’s lives. These caregivers are especially critical when people don’t have family living nearby or require more daily help than their family has the time or ability to provide.

If you’re in this situation, and you have a long-time, trusted caregiver you want to include in your estate plan, you have every right to. Now how do you prevent your adult children from claiming you were the victim of “undue influence” or even that your caregiver fraudulently changed your will or other documents?

Discuss your estate plan with your family

You may dread telling your adult children that you’re leaving some assets to your caregiver, but it’s important to tell them so they know it’s your idea. While you don’t have to discuss all the details of your estate plan, it’s wise to give your family some idea of what to expect. 

It can help to point out that this caregiver has allowed you to rely less on them for care or the need to look for a care facility. Unless you’re cutting your children out of your will in favor of your caregiver, they should see the fairness of that. What if they don’t?

Consider gifting a beneficiary now

You could choose to gift your caregiver some of your assets while you’re still around. You’ll want to make sure you don’t trigger gift taxes. You may also need to let your children know if you’re giving away property like jewelry so that your caregiver (or others you choose to gift) can’t be accused of stealing.

If you’re going to do this, it’s best to do it now. Don’t make promises you don’t properly codify and expect your family to fulfill them.

One way of helping avoid disputes after you’re gone is by letting your loved ones know that you’re getting legal guidance with your estate plan and any modifications to it. This can give them added reassurance that you fully understood your decisions and that you weren’t unduly influenced.