Can I bill my Mother-in-law's estate for my time and expenses while being her DPOA?

1 answer | Last updated: Sep 20, 2016
Marysunflower asked...

I am the DPOA of my former mother in law. (I was married to her son who then died in 2001) She has been in a nursing home after several medical issues. I HAD tried to care for her in my home, but she preferred the companionship of other residents, plus the daily rosary and 5x/day activities. Helen owned her home outright. I knew it would have to be sold to meet her medical bills. As her DPOA I have had to fill out many forms, accompany her to MD appointments, be on the phone with various people re: issues, be a visitor 3-5x/week, etc. I worked with a realtor to sell her home. In order to prepare her home for sale, I had to put in MANY work hours to clean out her home and a 100 foot by 16 foot shed. Can I bill her estate for ANY of my time and expenses? The 'closing' on the property is in 2 weeks; and I was told to submit bills BEFORE they issue Helen a final check {which will probably go almost immediately to the State who has paid on her nursing home care the past year}


Expert Answers

Judy and Fred co-mediate family property and financial conflicts, and each work individually as mediators as well. Judy Barber, a mediator and family business consultant, assists clients in resolving overlapping family and money conflicts so they are better able to make sound estate planning decisions. Frederick Hertz is an attorney and mediator who specializes in resolving co-ownership matters involving families, siblings, spouses, cohabitants and domestic partners.

In most states you are not allowed to bill for this time spent under a DPOA. If your mother in law had set up a trust then it might have been possible to compensated for your time, if the trust language expressly allowed it. Here, you will need to consult with a probate attorney to learn what the particular rules are for your state, in this particular situation. The other concern, however, is what will the other heirs think, since your payment would be coming out of their share of the estate. Perhaps you can raise this issue directly with the other heirs, and if they will agree to some form of compensation you wouldn't have to deal with it in court.