Legal Question in Wills and Trusts in Maryland

I have been living with my un-natural grandfather for 9 years, helping him. He married my natural grandmother over 30 years ago and is the only grandfather I've known. I first moved in to care for my grandmother as she became immobile and Dr would not allow her to come home without 24 hour family member supervision as she also had dementia. I broke my lease to move in their small basement apartment right away and in turn accrued a $10k judgement from the complex I left. My grandmother passed 5 years ago, I received nothing from her estate as they had to refer to her prior will from the 80s. I paid approx $50k in rent during those first 4 years and 2 weeks before her death she asked why I was still paying since my "job" was caring for her 24 hours with no pay, so I stopped paying as she insisted and that was the original plan anyway. I was going to move after she passed, as my grandfather's last living natural son was going to move in with him so he no longer needed me here, plus I have children and not much room for us to live comfortably. Unfortunately his son suddenly passed away a Month later and he was left with no one again, so I decided to stay to be here for him. It's now been 5 years since she passed and he is very ill. I have been the only one in my family that has been involved with him, preparing meals, going to the store, buying him food, necessities, picking up rx, driving to appts, scheduling things for him, etc. My mother has occasionally stopped by when I've asked her to and taken him to some appts when she has time, none of her siblings have been over to visit or even called him to say hi after they got their estate money from him buying the house since it was in my grandmother's name and they didn't want to wait until he died to get their inheritance. He does have 3 natural adult grandchildren, that have nothing to do with him, no calls, no visits; also 5 step children(my grandmother's natural children that inherited the house) and one step daughter from his previous marriage who has 2 adult children(no blood relation). None of these 'family members' have any involvement with him. My mother is his personal rep/executor and since his condition has worsened she has been coming over more frequently, almost once per week, other than that, its just me and my kids. My concerns: he is a true believer in 'natural' family being heirs. I know he has a will but don't believe I am mentioned in it at all as my grandmother had over 20 'natural' grandchildren and it would be unfair to include only one of them. Also, I have been told that I need to be prepared to move right away after he passes as the house will need to be sold(I have no lease/rent agreement) I have sacrificed 9 years to be here and feel as if I'm just being tossed aside so people who don't even care about him can get their money that they don't even deserve. I've asked them all to please visit or even just call and no one will! I'm living in this basement filled with black mold that he won't fix(not bc he can't afford it, but bc he said he already tried), my oven has not been working for 2 years, I had to pay $1000 to get my bathroom fixed and there are many other things that are not acceptable living here, especially with the kids being here, but he says let's just leave it alone, even if I offer to do it. I've had to just deal with it all because he can't be alone and there's no one else to come here and take care of him. Do I have any rights? Do I really need to move out right when he passes? Am I entitled to any compensation for care giving? If I'm not mentioned in the will is there anything I can do? My state is MD.

Asked on 12/17/17, 1:00 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Cedulie Laumann Arden Law Firm, LLC

Thanks for your post. Living in someone else's home and caring for them brings up a variety of things, including motivations and expectations of both the caregiver(s) and the person(s) receiving care. An open attorney answer on an online board is designed to offer only general statements of law.

To answer the question whether someone can inherit "if... not mentioned in the will...?" Generally, no. The law allows a spouse who is not mentioned in the will to demand a statutory right to a third of the estate, but Maryland law offers no such rights to children or grandchildren or step-grandchildren. Very limited exceptions may exist to this general rule but in all but the most unusual cases the law respects the right of people to leave their property to whomsoever they wish.

Generally, someone who occupies property with the owner's permission without a lease has no right to continued occupancy after the owner dies. An occupant may be entitled to notice, however, and if facing eviction an occupant might want to check with an attorney or tenant advocacy organization to understand what rights exist (the law and procedure for evictions may vary somewhat from county to county). Again, very limited exceptions may exist where promises have been made by the owner as to any rights to the property.

To analyze an involved fact pattern as the one posted it may be prudent to sit down with an attorney who can confidentially discuss a particular situation and talk about options. While the above response is not legal advice, I hope it offers some general information in response to the scenario posted.

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Answered on 12/18/17, 6:59 am

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