From our “Ask a Question” mailbag: 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 I equally. They never helped with his care. This is not fair. Can I make the estate pay me for my time?
Under New Jersey rules, your father could have made a will and given you the entire estate, or had a will that said you would receive more of his estate to reflect the work you did. Because he did not make a will, the New Jersey intestate rules divide his assets between all children, equally. Prior to the assets being divided, all his creditors must be paid. This includes his funeral expenses and final taxes. Had he made an agreement with you and your wife that you would be paid for the care you provided him, then you would also be a creditor.
It sounds from what you describe you had no such agreement. Because family members regularly provide their parents with care, this care is considered a gift unless you can prove otherwise.
If you have questions about probate in Gloucester County, feel free to contact our office for a free consultation.