It is relatively common for family members or friends of a decedent to either spend money on the decedent before his or her death or to agree to care for the decedent. What those people may want to know is, are they entitled to collect what is owed under this agreement from the estate. The answer, unfortunately, is usually they are not, nearly every time.
If you are about to enter into a situation where you are going to be becoming a caregiver or will be spending money on behalf of someone who may pass away in the near future, you should first contact a Miami estate attorney to be sure that all of your rights are explained to you and that the agreement can be properly executed to avoid future issues.
What is most commonly seen in situations such as these is a parent promising to leave everything to an adult child, in a situation that the child views as an implicit agreement for that child providing care in the last years of the parent’s life. Another frequent situation may be a parent promising to leave property to an adult child in exchange for that child living in and maintaining the property. Unfortunately, oral promises to leave something to someone in a will are not considered to be enforceable promises. This means that if the decedent dies without a will or without changing his or her will, the person who agreed to care for them or spend money on their behalf will get nothing.
The solution for this is to make sure that all of the correct paperwork is in place when it comes to the will before any caregiving takes place. However, this can be a double-edged sword. A testator has the right to change their will at any time, meaning they could still go and change it to leave out the caregiver, leaving the original agreement as unenforceable as if there was never any agreement at all.
It is also possible for a caregiver’s agreement to be drawn up that would pay the caregiver as care is being given. However, great care has to be taken when making such agreements as to not have a negative impact on the elderly or disabled person’s ability to get some government benefits if they need nursing home or similar care in the future. It could also have negative tax consequences for the caregiver, who would now be getting paid taxable income, rather than an inheritance that would not be taxable.
Another viable but rarely used option is to execute a contract to include the caregiver in the will, which will be enforceable against the estate if the person who made the will ends up leaving the caregiver out.
Ultimately, there is no simple answer when it comes to how to handle situations involving reimbursing caregivers or others who spend money on a decedent’s behalf. Many try to leave it a family issue, only to discover that they run into legal problems later on with litigious siblings or the government. The best bet is to speak to a skilled Miami estate attorney who can go over all the options with you and help your family decide on which options are best for your situation. Call the Law Offices of Albert Gurevich at (786) 522-1411.