My husband and I took care of his mother for 4 years. Her brother said we could get her home – now she wants us out

Dear semantics,

Four years ago, my husband and I moved into his mother’s home because she could no longer take care of herself. My husband is disabled and cannot do much physically. After the first year, I quit my job because my mother-in-law’s health deteriorated further. To this day, he is in a hospice.

Shortly after we were with him, there was a verbal agreement between my husband and his brother – they talked about it and decided that we would get the house after he died. But now that housing prices have soared in Tennessee, his brother has decided he wants to sell the house.

Before my mother-in-law’s health deteriorated, my husband took care of her. She would take him to pay bills, buy groceries and other daily necessities without the help of others. The will that my mother-in-law wrote states that my husband’s brother will be executed after his death.

My question is: after he dies, will he be able to get us out of his mother’s house? Will the verbal agreement they have made depend on the will? Is there anything we can do to stop him from kicking us?

Unstable daughter-in-law

You can email The Monist with any financial and ethical questions about coronavirus at and follow Quentin Futrell Twitter.

Dear daughter-in-law,

You have done a great service to your mother-in-law. According to a report published last year by the AARP and the National Alliance for Caregiving, the number of five unpaid adult caregivers in the United States is more than one – equivalent to more than 50 million U.S. adults if extrapolated to the entire population.

Many do it because they have little choice left; Others dedicate their own and professional lives to caring for a dear friend or family member. In fact, a study in the journal Health Affairs estimates that the lost income of unpaid carers will reach $ 147 billion by 2050. Experts advise against leaving your job if possible.

Your mistake was to assume that you would receive your mother-in-law’s home in exchange for your husband’s continued support of his mother and your four years of full-time care. People are notoriously unexpected. They change their minds and say things they don’t want to understand or follow and they say things they believe other people want to hear.

Verbal agreement

Verbal agreements are applicable in Tennessee, but are best avoided. There are six types of contracts that need to be done in writing. These include a marriage contract, a term of more than one year, an administrator or executor’s pledge to pay the deceased’s property, the sale of goods and property worth more than 500 – and a land / property contract.

“Even after you have successfully navigated all of the above requirements, you should be careful about filing a lawsuit in Tennessee for a breach of the oral contract within 6 years – the same rules of limitation as the written contract,” according to Weizmann at the Bray Law Office in Memphis, Tenn. Verbal contracts often require witness testimony, the firm adds.

You relied on your brother-in-law. She may have wanted to do better for him, or she may have decided that her promise was not enough to start a conversation with her mother-in-law about her wishes. Whether he is executive or not, you have to obey his wishes. If he dies as an entity, his property will be divided among his children.

There are other questions that remain unanswered: What does Will say? Has the house been paid? Can you buy your brother-in-law if the house is divided between the two brothers? These are all hard lessons to learn, but they are not so uncommon among caregivers who dedicate a few years of their lives to an elderly relative, sometimes at great financial and personal expense.

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See Moneyist Personal Facebook Group, where we are looking for answers to the most difficult money problems in life. Readers write to me with all kinds of hesitations. Post your questions, tell me what you want to know more about, or rely on recent semantic columns.

The semantist is sad that he cannot answer the question individually.

More from Quentin Fottrell:

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