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We cared for my MIL for two years in our home as well as helping her and my FIL for the previous 10 years. That included medical appointments, hair appointments, funerals, grocery shopping, yard work, etc. My SIL did what she could which was about 20 % of their needs. My BIL did practically nothing.


My MIL helped buy the house she lived in with us. She paid for the materials to finish the basement (her apartment) and my husband gave his labor for free. This is his career but he didn't collect a paycheck for two months while he was finishing the basement for her. In the end, it cost her less to live with us than to live independently or in AL.


They have both passed away and my husband was the executor for them. While the financial side of their estate was simple, it took many, many hours to deal with the possessions. Again, the siblings did almost nothing compared to the hours that my husband and (mainly) I put in to dealing with the stuff.


My husband was/is hesitant to take his executor's fee. He had a meeting with his siblings and they didn't know that he is legally entitled to a percentage of the estate. He fought for some of the fee (about 60% of what he legally could collect).


The siblings are not happy...SIL thinks "This isn't the way family treats family." As the one who provided most of their care, who couldn't work full time and contribute to my retirement and who spent way more than the executor's fee putting gas in the car to haul them around, I think it is more than fair for us to receive that money.


My MIL would have had almost nothing left if she had been in AL for the two years that she lived with us. Our time/effort/money are what is allowing my husband's siblings to inherit at all.


What are your thoughts on us taking a percentage of the executor's fee?

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Ask those siblings if it was fair that they didn't help out much. Is that the way family treats family?
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metoo111 May 31, 2019
That was my response as well!!
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The fee is yours UNDER THE LAW. Period. It is accepted and expected legally for the work. Tell the sister-in-law that you will happily turn executor duties over to a lawyer who will collect 300 and hour for his work.
And tell the sister in law that I am 76 and have been around a lot, and in my humble opinion this is just EXACTLY what happens to families at the end of life of their elder. They fight like starving dogs for every scrap left. So sorry, after all you have done, that there is no recognition of what you have done. It is as sad as it is par for the course.
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Invisible Jun 2, 2019
Yes, people tend to show their true colors. 2 of my 3 siblings recognize what I did for our dad and are ok with me finally getting compensated. What they don't know is how I protected his assets so they get an inheritance. The third sibling is - and will always be - an ignorant jerk.
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By all means take what is allowed. If they keep up the harping, put the numbers in writing and show them that your guys sacrifice allowed them to get any inheritance at all. I would put the caregiving hours that you both provided for free and every other expense.

It is a lot of work to be an executor and that is why the law allows a fee. If it was simple it would not get compensated.

I always wonder why people think it is okay for family to provide free services when they would never consider having a stranger do the same thing for free.

I truly hope this will not create a break in the family.

SIL is not even entitled to inherit a penny, not her mom, not her inheritance. Just like it wasn't your mom and you should have never had to provide free caregiving, you should have had a contract and got paid every week or so.
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Reply to Isthisrealyreal
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metoo111 May 30, 2019
Thanks for your support. It makes me feel less guilty.

Just to clarify, SIL is my husband's sister so she is blood related and entitled to inherit.

I also hope that this won't create a break between my husband and his sister. But, to be honest, not taking the money would create a rift between my husband and me. I would have felt like he didn't respect my contribution to his parents.

My mom is relatively healthy now but will be needing more and more help as she ages. Because I am the closest, most of her care will fall to me. I will definitely be sure to protect myself more financially when her care costs me like my in-laws care did. Hearing people's stories on here about the havoc that caregiving has caused them helps me understand that it's OK to look out for my needs also.
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I am Personal Representative (Executor) for my Mom's Estate which includes a house, a farm and several financial funds.  I was also the DPOA for Finance and Medical for Mom and I lived with my Mom for 9 years before she went into the nursing home where she lived for almost 2 years before her death.

As the Personal Representative (Executor) , I had to:
1. Get a copy of the will and file it with the County Probate Court. 
2. Notify banks, credit card companies, and government agencies (Social Security Administration was notified by the mortuary) of the decedent’s death.  I sent out 10 Certified Death Certificates.
3. Decide what kind of probate is necessary.
4. Represent the estate in Probate Court.
5. Set up a separate bank account for incoming funds (I had to sell the corn and soybeans after harvest) and pay any on-going bills such as utilities, farm related bills, etc. I had to contact all of the insurance companies and see if they needed to refund any premiums.  At least three insurance companies refunded premiums.  I had to pay all court costs and pay for required notifications in the local newspaper from the Estate Checking Account.
6. File an inventory of the estate's assets with the County Court that included the assessed value of the house and the farm, all bank accounts, CDs, mutual funds, life insurance, etc.
7. Maintain the property (the house and all household goods) until it can be distributed or sold 
8. Pay the estate's debts and taxes. I filed the 2018 
income tax return and will have to file an income tax return for 2019 since the corn and soybeans from the farm were not sold until 2019.
9. Distribute assets according to Mom's Will.  I am in the process of doing this currently.
10. Dispose of other property to the rightful heirs.

Our family attorney told me that I deserved a Fee as Personal Representative and he wrote a check which I took without hesitation.  I earned that Personal Representative Fee.  My brother has no problem with me receiving a fee for being the Personal Representative for Mom's Will/Estate. 
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metoo111 May 31, 2019
That is a lot of work to do - no doubt you deserve a fee for your time and effort.

My MIL's estate was much simpler financially but very time consuming to deal with her possessions. It took me four trips to her storage unit to get her holiday decorations, extra dishes, etc. My minivan was packed full each trip!!

It took us hours to deal with the 75 photo albums and a lifetime's collection of jewelry. The woman was a collector!!

These are the hours and hours that I feel we put in to earn the executor's fee.
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"My MIL helped buy the house she lived in with us. She paid for the materials to finish the basement (her apartment)" How much was this? Is this part of the reason the siblings are fighting your H about the executor fee? (I'm not saying they are correct; just wondering.)

My parents set up a trust, and the successor trustee fee is less (at least in my state) than for an estate. My two brothers are the successor trustees, and I would definitely argue that the brother who is doing all the work should get that fee (the other one is only acting as backup, although they are considered co-successor trustees in the trust). He isn't going to take it, though, he says.

When my duties towards my mother (not live in; average 6 hours/week but always on-call) became onerous because of her attitude towards me and then she was hospitalized for 17 days/rehab/nursing home, etc. and I was putting in a lot more than 6 hrs/week, I pretty much told my brothers I expected payment from that point on. When the main successor trustee brother said he had no problem giving me back-pay for the past few years, too, I jumped on it. Neither of the other two brothers said it wasn't right, although one of their wives said SHE would never take payment for taking care of HER mother. My brother quickly told her that HER mother was nothing like HIS mother. Two of my brothers and I (the third one wasn't asked, but he had the least to do with my mother than anyone else) even independently came up with the same hourly rate -- $20/hour. The back-pay was gifted to me in one lump sum. No taxes taken out. And I was paid $20/hour from that point on, including travel time to and from the NH.

Now my mother got very angry towards me when the subject of payment came up the one time I asked her. "You don't pay family!" was her reply. Well, no you don't, but then you also don't expect one family member to do all the work! (I was the only local sibling.)

She was convinced from that point on that I was trying to cheat her -- always saying how the trust was to be split equally four ways. Well, yes it will be; she just didn't know that I was getting compensation before the trust would be distributed at her death.

I am all for caregivers to get compensated WHILE they are doing the work; waiting until the estate or trust is settled can get very dicey.
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metoo111 May 31, 2019
The house is now sold and the money that she put into it is back in her estate. She paid 15k in materials and we paid to put in the driveway. The cost of the driveway was more than the executor's fee he is taking.

Part of the confusion is that the siblings didn't know that my husband didn't get paid for his labor and that we paid for the driveway.

I am glad you are getting so much support from your brothers. I agree with you that caregivers should be paid at the time of the care. Because caregiving starts small, it's easy to dismiss that time at first. As it escalates, it becomes more important to be compensated for that time. The hard part is knowing where that tipping point is.

As isthisrealyreal wrote, "I always wonder why people think it is okay for family to provide free services when they would never consider having a stranger do the same thing for free."
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The will stipulated that the executor should receive a fee? Your husband is the sole executor?

If so - yes, he should take a percentage of the fee and that percentage should be 100. Those were your MIL's instructions. No other factors are relevant. Nothing else can be correct.
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metoo111 May 31, 2019
The will did not state directly that he was entitled to a percentage of the estate but it did use terms such as "obligations and privileges" when it came to his responsibilities.

The biggest issue is that his siblings didn't know that he could get paid. The financial side was very easy to deal with because of previous estate planning and a will (which we paid for).

To be fair to my SIL, she and her husband are 15 years older than us and have had a lot of health issues themselves. They also had his mom to care for and live two hours away.

While my husband is worried about the impact the fee might have on his relationship with his sister, neither of us care much if there is damage to the relationship with his brother.
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As Executor your husband is entitled by law to a certain percentage of the estate. This isn't how family treat family? How did the siblings treat their parents and you while the parents needed care: that's the question I'd put to them. Please do whatever it takes to get the full amount due your husband. These siblings sound very selfish.
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Reply to thepianist
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Your SIL is hardly an expert on how to treat family. Take the fee.
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Reply to SFdaughter
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Take it. My mom is one of six. She was the one helping my grandmother 90% of the time with time and finances. My grandmother left her substantially more to compensate as my mom would not accept payment from my grandmother when she was alive. Siblings were mad and one said the same thing. I was 34 at the time and couldn’t fully wrap my head around the upset. Now at 48 I get it. Her sister was ok with someone else doing all the work, taking on all the stress and losing time and peace of mind being in the trenches for free so THAT is how family treats family? Leaving one person to do all the work and then when there is a reward in the end you shut that down? That’s how family treats family? Instead of saying “wow, so glad for you, you did a lot. You deserve it. Glad mom had you...”

It sounds like your husband’s sister was stingy with her time and efforts when it was needed and now she wants to be stingy with giving thanks. She can kick rocks!!!
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Reply to OhBoy999
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Of course you should take the fee and let SIL stew in her juices. Any lawyer will tell her it’s fair and square. You can bet she would have taken it.
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