Last Updated October 29th, 2017: Can an Estate Pay for Care a Child Provided to a Parent?
Our “Ask a Question” mailbag address if a Child can make an Estate Pay for Care a Child Provided to a Parent.
“Before he died, my dad lived with me in Gloucester County, New Jersey for several years. My wife and I took him to the doctor and cared for him when he became bedridden. He died without a will, and all his assets are being divided between my brothers and me equally. They never helped with his care. This is not fair. Can I make the estate pay me for my time?”
Repaying a Child at Death Using a Will.
New Jersey parents are under no obligation to treat children equally. If one child has provided a parent service, the parent is free in his Will to give that child more. This way the parent maintains control over assets during life but can recognize a child’s hard work after death.
Without A Will, The Rules Of Intestacy Apply.
If a parent fails to write a Will stating his or her wishes, New Jersey divides the estate under default rules. These are the New Jersey Intestacy Rules. The New Jersey Intestacy Rules assume that a parent wishes to treat children equally. Therefore, after paying estate creditors, each child receives an equal share of the remaining funds. The Intestacy Rules do not give extra amounts to a child because that child provided the parent extra care.
Paying Estate Creditors; Including Children.
Before dividing the estate assets, the executor must address all his creditors. This includes his funeral expenses and final taxes. In this case, you are asking if your work in providing care to a parent makes you a creditor. If you have no written agreement with your father stating that you were providing care in exchange for payment, the answer is no. The system assumes children provide free care for parents.
Putting it in Writing.
If you are providing care for a parent, and you both agree that your parent will pay you for this care, put the agreement in writing. If the agreement is properly documented just like any other business deal, then you are a creditor. Thus, you can enforce your claim against the estate just like any other creditor. If you expect one of the other children will object, it would be wise to have this agreement drafted by an experienced Estate Planning Lawyer. This way the document is properly drafted and the attorney serves as a witness to the parent’s wishes.
Can an Estate Pay for Care a Child Provided to a Parent?
The answer is yes, but the agreement to pay for that care must be clearly documented.
In conclusion, in this Post, I tried to answer the question, “Can an Estate Pay for Care a Child Provided to a Parent?” So, let me know how I did. Comments and questions are welcome!
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Author, Peter Klenk, Esq.