By Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. of Hanlon Niemann & Wright, a Freehold, NJ Elder Care Attorney
Here’s a quote I use often, “no good deed goes unpunished”. The quote applies to this case where a middle aged person was her elderly mother’s caregiver for a year before her death. She quit her job to do it because she wanted to keep mom out of a nursing home, even though her sister didn’t seem to care. The daughter lost about $40,000 in wages as a result. Now the other sister is the personal representative for the mother’s estate. The caregiving daughter told her she wants to be compensated from the estate for the money she lost to care for her mom. The sister has told her that this was never agreed to, and she cannot pay her from the estate. Will she have to sue?
My unfortunate answer is that while I understand why she feels as she does, unless there was a specific agreement that she be compensated for caregiving services, a lawsuit is highly unlikely to succeed. In my opinion, all a lawsuit will accomplish is to alienate the daughter from her surviving family members and create discord.
This well intended child performed a “labor of love” for which I commend her. But the personal representative is not authorized to just give her the money. Perhaps the beneficiaries of the estate will be willing to give her something in recognition of her efforts to care for mom in her final year. But frankly, based on my extensive experience with families, I would not count on it.
I have urged her to try to move on emotionally. Recognize that she did the right thing – for herself and for her mother. That is something to feel good about, even if there is no monetary reward.
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