Here is an outline of the situation:
In June of 2014 I sold my house in CT and decided to pay my mother and Ron, her husband, a visit in CA as I hadn't seen them for years. My mother was just short of 94 at the time and had advanced dementia, requiring 24-hour care. This was provided by Ron, assisted by caregivers. They came for 3 hours in the morning and for 2 hours in the afternoon. Perhaps I should mention here that since it was not necessary to probate either will because there is no executor. I am the eldest child, and have provided at least 99% of the care my mother received, not counting the caregivers. My brother and his wife contributed virtually nothing.
In August of 2014 Ron suffered a moderately serious stroke, which required that he stay in a nursing home. Since they couldn't afford round the clock care for Mother, I told him that I would stay as long as they needed me to provide that care, with the assistance of the caregivers.
The subject of compensation was never discussed. I was already getting room and board. Perhaps I should mention that Ron told me in an email shortly before I left CT that he would not charge me for the extra room he had available. I still have this email. In addition, shortly after I arrived in CA, he told me that he would be happy to pay for my meals. There is no record of this conversation.
Ron died 2/8/15, at home in hospice. I continued to look after my mother until her death on 12/24/16.
Both my mother and Ron had assets, and I have received a significant inheritance. The reason for my question is that my brother and his wife are creating problems with the assets of mother's estate, and I would like to have some form of leverage over them to persuade them to stop making waves. I won't go into details on this as I don't think they are relevant, but if they are I can provide them.
I know that 24-hour care from an agency goes for about $21 per hour where they live. If I were to charge her estate only $5 per hour the estate would owe me about $80,000, which greatly exceeds the assets remaining in the estate. I believe that a claim of this sort, being for services rendered, would have priority over an inheritance.