(1) amounts under $500 and (2) amounts over $500 Example: (1) $$$ spent for repairs and updates to prepare family member's home for sale. (2) travel expenses,ie. airfare, motels and car rental for out of state children helping with Mother's affairs, home prep for selling, etc. Thank you!

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Any amounts can be spent on home improvements or repair. Paying travel expenses of family members, however, would most likely be viewed as a gift to them and therefore subject to the five-year lookback period and transfer penalties.
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I'd like to add, that the costs spent by family related to the home can be filed as a claim against the estate for probate or as an expense against the proceeds of the sale if there is a legal agreement with the elder on this or if the costs were done by a family member who has a business that is able to place workman's lein on the property. Like if SIL is a contractor who does the work or hires sub's do do the work, SIL can place a lein on the property via his business. Lien has to be paid from the proceeds of the sale in order for the lein to be released or removed and therefore for the sale to go through and get a clean clear title issued. Placing a workman's lein is pretty simple courthouse action if you have a business and do it within the timeframe established by the state or county.
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