Will I be reimbursed for all the money I spend on my mother-in-law's estate since her death?

1 answer | Last updated: Sep 29, 2016
Crafty asked...

My mother-in-law passed away without a will. This is where it all starts - she had alzheimer's. For the past 5 yrs my brother-in-law stop working to take care of her. She owned her own home and he was living there & taking care of everything - there are 5 others in the family (1 brother passed away a few yrs ago) where 1 other (my husband) also went up to help him out - to give him a break - whereas the others didn't bother until it came to after her passing. My brother-in-law was living in the house and others were asking why he was still there?? I was able to get an attorney for him to see so that he could settle the estate since that is all the others were asking ... the attorney adviced him first, that the group had to elect an executor to the estate which case they all agreed to him to take care of everything - once that was done the attorney advised him to put the house on the market - that the estate would only be responsible for at least 2 months of the utlity bills and that the rest would be his ... since he stopped working to take care of mom - he went thru his savings and was not getting paid to take care of her at all-So before he could put the house on the market - he had to remove the oil tank out of the ground which took a total of 6 months (August to May) to get the permission by the state that it was clear to be put on the market. Meanwhile, I had inherited some money and was able to help him out with all of the bills - from paying the taxes for the house, property up in PA and utilities. He stated that I would be getting the money back once the house was sold - now I'm hearing differently - this concerns me since it about $40,000.00. None of the other brothers & sisters ever came forward to help except for my husband and myself. The others expected it - all they were concerned about was why he was still in the house - so he moved out and you guessed it - items were taken off of the property not once but twice!! Yet, he was maintaining the property and the house while there - but they don't see that - it's has been total HELL!!!! never thought they would act like this at all but it happens. Since we put the house on the market - it is now under contract and waiting on the closing date - my main question is - will I get reimbursed for all of the money that I spent on the estate since her death? I know the time will never be reimbursed but the gas I or my husband used to travel 60 miles to help out with the house should (yes?) - the interest that I lost on that money will never be reimbursed at all (right?) or can that also be estimated for reimbursement?

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.

Under the legal rules of most states, anyone who contributes towards a "necessary" expense for an estate-owned property is entitled to be reimbursed upon the sale of the property. Thus, you should put together a list of all your contributions and present it to your siblings, and ask them to approve the reimbursement. If any of them disagree, there is usually a procedure where you submit your bills to the executor, and he asks the probate court to rule on the request. Every state has its own procedures, however, so you should be checking with an estate lawyer to learn how precisely to submit this request.