I hope to inherit $1.3 million from my widowed mother. I live abroad with my partner. Should I quit my job and move to take care of her?

By Quentin Fottrell

“Much of the estate has been designated as transfer on death to avoid probate”

Dear Quentin,

I have a tricky problem. I am an only child living outside the United States with a non-American partner. My mother was widowed last year and lives alone. She has about $50,000 a year in retirement income, a modest mortgage-free home worth just over $250,000, about $100,000 in cash, and over $1 million in investments. She is elderly with serious health problems and I am the sole heir. Much of the estate was designated as transfer on death to avoid probate.

However, in my country of residence, I would be liable for significant inheritance tax, which could total up to $400,000 if she were to pass with that amount. I have repeatedly told her to use whatever she needs to have a comfortable life, but she still adamantly refuses to get home help or move to assisted care. Relatives helped me, but I plan to come back to help for a while, as much as possible.

I don’t really mind cooking and shopping for her, and my partner supports me. But to do that, I would basically have to give up my jobs here, and there would be various other costs, like having to buy term insurance in the United States. I don’t really want to go back to the States permanently and ask my partner to give up their business in the process.

Is it financially better for her to pay for home care and have me continue to work, or come back temporarily to help her? She already gives my partner and I about $10,000 a year each, which is the tax-free limit on gifts in our country, to reduce the pinch of estate taxes. However, if I was unable to work, I would need more financial support, and I considered asking him to pay our rent directly, which would be an additional $10,000.

At $30,000 a year, that would still be less than paying a caregiver or entering an institution, but I also worry about the long-term effect on my career. Can you give a perspective?

conflicting threads

Dear son,

Your mother is very generous in offering you and your partner $10,000 a year each.

She didn’t ask you to move. She doesn’t expect you to move to the United States. You can, I imagine, visit your mother at least once a year and contact her via FaceTime or Skype. If you decide to move, it should be because you want to spend time with your mother – and that will trump all other career considerations, or not. It may or may not be an easy decision for you, but you have to make your choice based on what you think is best.

I can’t tell you that you should quit your job, or that you and your partner should return to the United States, or that you should return for a while without your partner (if that was possible). Ask for tax advice in your country of residence today. When faced with a tough decision, I look 20 years ahead of me and ask myself, “What would my older self wish I had done? You get a better perspective when you look at your life in its entirety, without the details of everyday life.

Your mother is well off and has enough money to see her through to the end of her life, with the right management and planning. There is a lot you can do for her from abroad, including hiring an estate lawyer and a CPA. Explain that planning ahead rather than day-to-day helps avoid firefighters in the event of a medical crisis. It is better to be prepared. This gives you complete peace of mind in the present. Full-time and part-time care should be formalized.

Visit your mother to get an idea of ​​her needs and current health status. What is the condition of his house? To whom does she entrust the management of her financial affairs? Does she have a medical and/or financial power of attorney? Upon reading your letter, Patricia Tobin, a certified elder law attorney based in San Rafael, Calif., and member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, says you must have some idea of ​​what your mother wants.

Depending on where your mom lives, home help would probably be no more than $30,000 a year, Tobin says. But it’s a 24/7 job. “If all she needs is what he’s willing to give – cooking and shopping – in many places $30,000 would be enough, but assisted living suggests she needs or will soon need a lot more than that. Is the writer ready to change bedding and diapers, wake up at night, deal with all sorts of problems?” said Tobin. “Besides, no one can work 24 hours a day.”

“Caring is an act of love or duty,” adds Tobin. In other words, it’s not for the faint of heart. Since you are already hesitating, it may be best to leave it to the professionals. It is emotionally and physically demanding work. Live-in caregivers earn close to $30,000 a year, but it can be less or more than that, depending on condition and need.

If you’re worried about your job and your life, you’ve answered your own question.

Learn how to shake up your financial routine at the Best New Ideas in Money Festival on September 21-22 in New York City. Join Carrie Schwab, President of the Charles Schwab Foundation.

Check out the private Moneyist Facebook group, where we seek answers to life’s trickiest money problems. Readers write to me with all sorts of dilemmas. Ask your questions, tell me what you want to know more or weigh in on the latest Moneyist columns.

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“I’m stuck in a penny-pinching mindset”: My partner and I bought a house, but he only wants to buy high-end items. How can we agree?

-Quentin Fottrell

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswire

08-30-22 1732ET

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