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Inviting father-in-law to live with us?
Old 09-04-2012, 09:45 AM   #1
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Inviting father-in-law to live with us?

My wife's dad is 73 and currently lives about 3.5 hours from us. He has always been very independent, but lately he has been talking about moving to our small city to be closer to us and his grandchildren. My wife has been wanting me to put in a pool house but I've been putting that off because I don't think we will ever recoup the $40000 investment. We can afford it but I just don't want to throw the money away.

Father-in-law offered to pay for the pool house if he can use it to live in half the year. The other half he wants to live in his travel trailer in Lake Tahoe, or wherever he decides he wants to be. My wife is considering his offer but I'm hesitant. He is a great guy, loves our kids, and would be a good relief kid watcher for our two boys so my wife and I could go on more overnight trips, but I worry that I will get tired of the ever-present company.

Has anyone ever had a parent or in-law live with them like this? If so, what are the pitfalls?


Update:
I have not posted in quite some time but still read the forums. Still running the used car lot I started up after my botched 2 years of ER. Work 2-3 hours a day. I like this arrangement better than being totally retired. One kid is a sophomore in HS, other in 7th grade. After both kids get into college in about 6 years we may sell the big house and move to Austin or..............?
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Old 09-04-2012, 10:16 AM   #2
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Tough call Cardude and best of luck with your decision. One thing you may want to keep in the back of your mind is, your kids will be observing how you handle this situation and at some point you may be in your FIL's situation. Sounds as if he isn't ready for the assisted living center yet and is in fairly decent shape, so at best it may just be just a transitional stay. Again, good luck with your decision.
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Old 09-04-2012, 10:16 AM   #3
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Are back yard pools (and pool houses) common in your area? If so you may not get your $ out of the pool but it won't be a detriment. Suppose you want to downsize after the kids are out of the house? What happens to Grandpa? Unless you plan to live in that house for another 15-20 years (Grandpa's likely lifespan) I don't think that arrangement would be in his best interest.

Providing what in our area is called a 'mother-in-law' or 'butler's quarters' on your property depends on local zoning codes and your property layout (you need direct access from the street). If permitted you could construct a studio or 1 bedroom mother-in-law for his use. Property with that feature would increase the value of your place, you could give him a lean on the property for the improvement value to assure that he would be paid back should you sell, and if he becomes frail you could rent it out and use that money for his care.

Have you the watched "Income Property" TV show? Although it is focused on making a duplex out of urban houses in Canada you can see the potential.

The sharing your space issue is one none of us can solve. The best option would be to make his space an attractive place to be but you need to realize that he will doubtless join the family for some meals. Life is a trade off, it needs to be a good trade-off for the both of you. You want to avoid the "two roosters in the chicken coop" syndrome.
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Old 09-04-2012, 10:46 AM   #4
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A room, separate from the main living areas and other bedrooms, with its own entry and bath is a very nice addition to a home. It allows visitors to stay longer periods of time without forcing socialization and allowing all parties to have some privacy. A TV and sofa in that room makes it even better.

Your “kid watching” needs are only a few more years. Your FIL will need his own social circle, and I would think the biggest risk would be him not having one, depending on you for his main social contact, and you seeing him as guest / sitter instead of another household member.
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Old 09-04-2012, 10:52 AM   #5
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You are approaching this with a good sense of caution. We did something similar for MIL, building an attached addition; suite but no kitchen. She was 80 at the time and no longer able to work, nothing but SS and no way to support herself. Seemed like a humane and responsible thing to do; she was becoming less able to do for herself. Now 87.

Less than a year in she developed colon cancer, was operated on, and has not physically returned to her original state. DW does not work and it has become about a full time job ferrying her to Dr, beauty appointments, etc. I'm pretty much full time retired, 61. We are financially pretty well off drawing only 2% or so from portfolio, have a Cola'd pension. All that savings and retirement income was to be used for travel.

That's the problem for us. BIL will take her now and then but he and his wife work (and they're doing quite well). Our kids live overseas with grandkids, so we're limited in visits in that we have to stay here pretty much to care for her.

Lesson is that be careful of what the future may bring. It could well get worse for us as her health will no doubt deteriorate. So the cautionary is not just what would it be like in the beginning, but what could it become and how restrictive to you. Would we do it again? Yes, in all likelihood. It is our responsibility, but it'd be damn nice if BIL and his wife would assume more of the burden.

Good luck with your decision....
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Old 09-04-2012, 11:47 AM   #6
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If it was me, I would check on local building zoning laws.

What may seem a simple solution might not work out in the area that you live in.

In our area, separate "in-law" appartments (regardless of what you call them) attached to the main house or not with separate entrances, are not allowed.

Just an FYI...
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Old 09-04-2012, 12:50 PM   #7
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Think long and hard about this . My Mother moved in with my sister far away from her friends and some family . She felt isolated and got clingy . My Sister felt put upon and started resenting my Mother . It lasted three years until my Mother moved to an independent living facility near her old friends . Your Dad maybe be better with a small condo or apartment in the same town but not in the back yard .
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Old 09-04-2012, 01:05 PM   #8
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Great info everyone. Thanks.

I didn't think about the social aspect. I'm not ready to be his only social outlet-- he loves to drink beer everyday and I can't do that. Well, I could do that but don't want to go down that path.

Didn't think about him living 15-20 more years but I guess it's possible. I'm not ready to be tired down when he becomes totally dependent.

I guess if DW has to have a pool house it will be cheaper in the long run for me to just bite the bullet and pay for the silly thing.
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Old 09-04-2012, 02:14 PM   #9
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Some thoughts: My daughter and her husband (who is a doctor) built a large home in the town where they live. It's 90 miles from us. They have 5 children, so naturally their home is large, but in addition, they build a guest suite that is wheelchair accessible. They said that his parents have 8 children and so 7 of them can care for his parents, but in our case, we only had 2 children, so they wanted a place we could move into, if we couldn't live on our own. We didn't ask for this and were surprised. It's the suite where we stay when we visit. Our grandchildren love to point out "Grandma, here is where you can roll your wheelchair into the shower!" etc. We are both healthy and on two feet at this time.lol

In some ways, it's comforting to know someone would want us, if we were to need a place. But at the same, I think about the possible loss of social life and maybe having to explain where I'm going to someone all the time. I really would prefer to be several miles away or more. But that's just me. I like some amount of privacy. I would think your father-in-law would do just as well in a nearby apartment. It might be the best of both worlds that way.
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Old 09-04-2012, 02:40 PM   #10
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I agree that a nearby apartment would be better for all around. If he paid for the pool and lived in the pool house his drinking could be an issue, it is evidently a concern of yours.
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Old 09-04-2012, 03:35 PM   #11
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Think long and hard about this . My Mother moved in with my sister far away from her friends and some family . She felt isolated and got clingy . My Sister felt put upon and started resenting my Mother . It lasted three years until my Mother moved to an independent living facility near her old friends . Your Dad maybe be better with a small condo or apartment in the same town but not in the back yard .

+1 on this from me... my mom bought a condo about 10 minutes away... one of my sisters lives about a mile from me... we are far enough apart not to have to deal with each other unless we want, but close enough to be able to do things quickly.... one sibling lives about an hour away and the rest our out of town....

but my DW would vote for the pool house if it were her mother... not so sure with her dad, but he died earlier this year so not in the cards....

DW would like her mom to move here, but she lives in another country and I do not think she wants to move... she lives next to her son and DIL, but they are planning on moving to get a bigger place...
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Old 09-04-2012, 08:34 PM   #12
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I have seen this work out very well and I have seen it work out very bad. It is not so much a matter of how things would work out today - but rather what will the future bring....something none of us know.

FIL gives you $40K to build - moves in and everyone is happy. Five - ten years down the road, he starts to develop dementia or alzheimers.....or something else that requires you now to become the part-time/full-time babysitter in return. Are you now ready to return the favor and "babysit" him? Or will you expect him to move? What will he expect? What happens if you decide you want/need to sell or move? If everyone is on the same page - go for it. Just remember - pages change.

I was never very close to my mother - but I knew (emotionally) I could never make her "move out of my house". I could "not let her move in" though.... My brother, on the other hand, opted to do the "shared house" thing, with the convenient babysitter. Now my mother is elderly with alzheimers, refuses to even considered assisted living, calls him incessantly, and is extemely difficuly to deal with. My brother wanted to move, but felt guilty. He did finally move (rents his portion) - but my mother didnt handle it well. We hire someone to care for her.....but none of it has been pretty for him.

On the other hand, I have a cousin who did something similar and it has worked out very well. But she is very close to her mother....
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Old 09-04-2012, 09:24 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by cardude
I guess if DW has to have a pool house it will be cheaper in the long run for me to just bite the bullet and pay for the silly thing.
Exactly. You can afford it financially, and while it might not make economic sense it will keep your wife happy. I suspect that - like the rest of us - not everything you do is justifiable on a strictly economic basis, so she's entitled to occasional whimsies too.

More to the point, if you accept a financial contribution from your father-in-law towards the cost of construction, it will be very difficult - perhaps impossible - to insist that he move on if things don't work out to your satisfaction. I doubt that you want to put yourself in that position. If he's going to reside with you (in the pool house or in the main house, doesn't really matter), it should be on a gratis basis so that you retain the ability to end things quickly and easily. Mingling aspects of your respective finances would significantly and unnecessarily complicate things.
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Old 09-05-2012, 01:47 AM   #14
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I wouldn't go there, Cardude. Too many risks. Years ago, a family friend put some money in towards a designer home for DS and his DW, on the condition that she live with them. A year later, DS drowned. Without DS, DW and Grandma didn't gets along. She eventually moved out, leaving her equity in the house, and died lonely and poor.
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Old 09-05-2012, 02:23 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Moemg View Post
Think long and hard about this . My Mother moved in with my sister far away from her friends and some family . She felt isolated and got clingy . My Sister felt put upon and started resenting my Mother . It lasted three years until my Mother moved to an independent living facility near her old friends . Your Dad maybe be better with a small condo or apartment in the same town but not in the back yard .
+ 10

Moemg took the words right out of my mouth. Close by, but not right on top of, sounds more w*rkable for all involved.
The $$$ that your FIL is willing to spend could get him a really nice apartment for quite a while.

My "sniffer" is on full alert. The pool house plan added to the "hey I'll pay for it and drink beer 24/7" is ringing bells, loud and clear.
Call me cynical...
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Old 09-05-2012, 06:01 AM   #16
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I have seen this work out very well and I have seen it work out very bad. It is not so much a matter of how things would work out today - but rather what will the future bring....something none of us know.
That and the other issues raised makes me hear warning sirens, clanging bells, and see flashing red lights going off on this one.

We are also dealing with the issue of FIL not being able to stay where he is in his own house - he's 86 and can't walk the length of a grocery store without resting. Other than the equity in his house he's also flat broke.

While it is possible he'll stay here for a short time after selling the house that is definitely going to be a short-term arrangement.
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Old 09-05-2012, 09:51 AM   #17
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I am going to change my mind a bit based on the various posts.... and I think the answer depends on what you would do in the future... (that is if he is OK in the present.... there is nothing worse than an old drunk living next to you)....


If you are the type of person who would move him in your house and take care of him when he gets to that point of needed care, either from dementia or whatever..... then the downside that most people talk about is not an issue... you would move him in anyway....

If you are the type of person who would NOT move him in.... but make sure he was taken care of in a good facility.... then do not move him in now.... as some have said, he might not want to move.... it would be easier to move him from a place where he is not taken care of to the facility than from your home where he is taken care of to the facility...


As mentioned by me.... I am happy my mom lives by herself a few miles away.... we see her at least once a week as we take her out to dinner... but having her at our house all the time would be difficult.... BTW, SHE does not want to live with any of her kids...
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Old 09-05-2012, 04:20 PM   #18
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I am totally and completely scared away from this idea now!

Thank you all for the excellent advice.

Now, should I keep my mortgage, or let FIL pay it off.......... ;-)
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Old 09-06-2012, 02:41 PM   #19
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I missed this thread and it sounds like the decision was made anyway.

But it rings very close to home for me.

We built a detached 1 br house for my in-laws. FIL is in a wheelchair, has had several strokes and needs care. MIL is still independent, doesn't want to spend down according to medicaid rules, so putting him in a nursing home was NEVER something she would approve.

It was not a good financial decision. Especially since we had contractor issues (big time) and were unable to collect the amount owed. That said - it was a very good family decision. For us. Not for anyone else.

We were able to help with the care of FIL, give MIL a break. They live with us part of the year, and in a small house close to my sister-in-law part of the year. It has allowed my MIL the independence she wants.

We're coming to the end of the era - at some point FIL will have to go into a home - and that time is sooner than later. (It's a decade since his first incident landed him in a wheelchair with cognition issues). We'll rent the unit out when it's no longer needed. That will help offset the amount we put in. We made sure that everything was done legally to allow us the option to rent it out in the future.

Financially - it didn't (and still doesn't) pencil out. But for our family the other aspects (emotional and physical support in helping care for FIL) was the right choice. As an added bonus - my sons have become very close to their grandparents and they've also learned the lesson that "family takes care of family".
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