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I have been caring for an elderly gentleman for the last 3 years. He has recently passed away and his family has had nothing to do with him the entire time I have been caring except for a phone call on occasion. I have not been paid in over a year he wanted to leave me his house for payment for everything that I did for him. I did not want to take his home from his family although they are POS, but how do I go about getting paid for services rendered? Do I need to put a lien on his estate because the family is giving me all kinds of grief. They called the law on me to open up a death investigation which is a joke, they turned off all the cell phones and I'm sure all the utilities will be next. What do I need to do to get what I'm owed. I do not to mention they have slandered my name on Facebook saying I'm selling his things and everything else.

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Did you get anything in writing?
Did you family know of your arrangement three years ago?
Did you contact as attorney to make these arrangements three years ago?
If not, likely it is too late to honor a verbal agreement, if that is what it was.
How did you expect to 'get his house' in exchange for payment without anything in writing or any signed contract?

Did you think his family would believe you upon his death, if you didn't get anything in writing?

Of course, the family would have had to be involved INITIALLY with such a large 'exchange' for services.

If you do have legal documents, get an attorney.

Perhaps this could be a good lesson for others who read this - get everything in writing and as necessary, get an attorney to draw up a contract.

Gena / Touch Matters
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BurntCaregiver Sep 7, 2021
I'm replying to your other comment lower on the thread.
I don't know how long you've worked in homecare (agency or privately), or if you know how it works.
The family isn't going to do a thing. They are not going to call the cops or anything of the sort. Know why? Because it they have control of their "loved one's" money and assets, they are the one who will be held responsible for illegal hiring. They also know that the caregiver can play this card if it comes to that.
These people are not going to pay what they owe to the caregiver. They took advantage of this caregiver and she worked free for a year. They are totally ghosting her now by ignoring her calls and keeping their cellphones turned off because they won't even discuss the possibility of paying the wages that are owed.
The court won't do anything for her. So, who's supposed to make her whole for all the wages she's owed?
She has to get her money and if this means cleaning the house out and slipping out like a thief in the night, then so be it. That might be the only way she will recover some of the pay she's owed. A whole year of wages.
Really now, do you think these people are going to involve the cops when they owe her a year of wages? She also lives there. They would have to prove that the things she's selling don't belong to her. If there are no records of her being employed as the caregiver, they will also have to prove that too and they know it. She can say she was in a romantic relationship with her client and that the things in the house are shared items. With no record of her being employed as a caregiver... well it would be their word against hers. As for the items she may sell, possession is 9/10's of the law isn't it?
It's a shame that caregivers in private service have to know these things. It's an even bigger shame and a disgrace that the families who employ us and entrust the care of their precious "loved ones" to us have so little respect and regard for our service. So little they don't even think we deserve to be paid the wages they agreed upon.
So caregivers sometimes have to be creative to get what we're owed. I always get paid one way or the other.
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I'm pretty shocked at the advice being given here.

I would contact an attorney, not the internet, to deal with this.

If you cannot afford an attorney, call legal aid and ask for their help.

Laws may vary from state to state. In my state, for example, you can be evicted if you don't have a written lease after 30 days, because word of mouth lease is month to month. If the family evicts you, and they probably will, that eviction will stay on your record and you will have great difficulty if you ever want to lease a home or an apartment or office space.

The family may also call the police and file a civil and/or criminal claim against you if you sell his property, and in my state they would be well within their rights and you could end up at best with a judgement against you and at worst with criminal charges.

The best, and most ethical, way to handle this IMO is to speak with an attorney and see if you are able to file claim against the estate for your wages.

You want to continue to be employable, and also collect your lost wages, so consult an attorney and handle this in a professional manner.
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You need an attorney to navigate this.

Working without pay can be seen as a future expectation from a verbal agreement.

By law they can shut off all utilities except water. So, this could happen.

Find an employment attorney pronto.
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Reply to Isthisrealyreal
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I would have quit immediately unless I get paid by the week or even day of services, and if he owed me any money the time for compensation seeking is when he was alive. You CHOSE to work for free for a year--that's on you. There is nothing illegal about volunteering.

If you lived there it sounds like you were paid with room, board, and food.

PS: If you were paid "under the table" you need to pay taxes on that. I assume you filed taxes? You see what kind of mess this can become...
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Sarah3 Sep 7, 2021
oh gosh I was so hoping this forum could finally get this one fact straight- it’s against domestic labor laws to count “room and board” as payment for a live in worker, sorry just so frustrating this has been addressed here numerous times in the past and folks seem to be wedded to the idea room and board counts as payment. You can’t pay car or medical insurance, or anything else with room and board. Try calling ones medical insurance and tell them you need to make a payment but your employer doesn’t pay you and ask if they will except room
and board toward a payment- I’m being facetious obviously to help point out the narrative that continues to be clung to by many is false.
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Working 3 years and having problems with payment may not bode well. You may have to leave the house. Present a detailed bill to probate court to try to get paid. With no written proof that he wanted you to have the house, you probably won’t get the house. His family may say that you worked for him for room and board and that you are owed nothing.
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i learned the hard way everything has to be in writing - what you can do is charge $30 a hour for all your work and find a lawyer - that is the only way you will get paid . This isn’t the first time I have heard this from caretakers
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Your agreement was made with the gentleman who now has died.
Whatever debts, contracts, etc. he had & that are outstanding or not yet settled are now debts of his estate. For after death debts to be dealt they need to be filed as a claim against his estate in probate court. If he was the solo owner of the house, his estate will have that house as an asset of his estate.

It then goes into 1. If he had a valid will, then whomever named Executor in that will, opens probate. Executor deals with claims filed
Or
2. If no will, then for most states his assets escheat to the state till his Lineal Heirs are determined and approved by the court. Then a lineal heir usually becomes administrator (dependent) of the estate.
Unless you are specifically named in his will or are a claimant, you get no notification on status of his estate.

On your thinking you can place a lien. A lien placement is way different than a claim against the estate & these tend to vary by state. Liens are usually done for workmans liens, like for companies that provided a service on the physical property….. like a roofing company, electrician. The property is what gets the lien attached. For in-home personal care, I bet that would not be able to be filed as a lien; it would be a claim.

It is on the debtor (you) to let the heirs or court know of the debt and do whatever is needed to file your claim in a timely manner. Like you check the newspaper to see when they open probate and do a Notice to Creditors and then you submit your bill (your claim) to the court as per info on the Notice.

To me, as some who has been an Executor 3 times, your ability to have a claim that the court & Executor will even look at is IF YOU HAVE A VALID CONTRACT or BILL that accompanies the filed claim. If all you had was a word-of-mouth agreement, an Executor does not have to put it into the valid debt group. There is a little cottage industry of fly by nite businesses that file fraudulent claims in probate so if a bill does not have a signed contract or an itemization of services, the Executor can request this and if not provided within days, that claim can be tossed.

That he paid you cash, really works against you as you have no cancelled checks to show a pattern of payment for services. There is no way to verify what you said that he said unless:
- you have a documentation on hrs worked over 3 years and he signed off on the document you presented to him and were paid in cash for. That there exists a “pattern of payment”.
- you have witnesses who are willing to do whatever legal now to establish there was a verbal agreement 3+ years ago. This is not a DIY. You will need an atty who does probate litigation work to deal with a claim for you. If house is over 400k w no mortgage, I bet you could find a probate atty willing to take this on….. 3 yrs of work plus legal fees maybe over 51% of asset value….. they will need to settle. You will need to pay a retainer upfront in some way, maybe 10k.

His family can go hard ball: can say your room & board was 100% in kind for your in-home help. Nothing is owed. He’s dead = all agreements dead as well. If no rental agreement, your not a tenant. Instead Your a squatter & can be removed by law enforcement.

Just a random thought….. could you be at all considered his common law wife? If that could possibly be the case, find a probate atty ASAP. Common law spouses cannot just be ignored. They get a set % in most states no matter what bs has happened.
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BurntCaregiver Sep 8, 2021
igloo572,

Excellent creative thinking about the possibility of the poster being considered a common-law wife.
If the family tried to play the 'free room and board in exchange for 24/7 caregiving services' that will backfire on them. It's against the law because an arrangement like that is indenture without a specified amount of time. No one will believe she volunteers to work 24/7 either.
All agreements are not dead after a person passes away. When they owe bills, they are not forgotten. If they were in a nursing home and they find out the person had a ten dollar bill under the rug somewhere, they sue for it.
This family knows she can get them in trouble. So it's a stand off and they figure she'll get afraid and back down. Then they get away with not paying her the money owed.
I hope she doesn't back down.
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If you didn't have a signed, written caregiving agreement or he didn't legally will the house to you I think you should contact an attorney. You will need some sort of actual proof of what was agreed and an attorney can give you the right legal guidance for your situation and state.
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Reply to Geaton777
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My uncle had squatters move into an empty home he owned. When he found out he tried to get them to move. He turned the electricity off and he got charged with terroristic activity. Had to go through eviction procedures and it was a lengthy mess. You have rights. I would consult with an attorney.

Check with your state laws on what can happen with utilities as uncle had a different experience than Isthisreallynreal.
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Reply to 97yroldmom
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You need an attorney fast! Put in writing what you got paid before and your bill now. I don't think you will get the house because it wasn't in writing verbal agreements aren't really binding he should have written it down or changed his will.
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