For nearly 40 years, Marcelle Harrison and her family have lived in the same home in Cambridge, Mass. But after her mother and then stepfather died – without a will – she and her extended family may be forced from their home due to claims made on the property by estranged relatives in Barbados.
A “centuries-old” Massachusetts state law known as “intestate” favors “blood relatives over relationships formed through time and mutual affection.” But without a will, the law looks only at the “kinship chart.”
Ms. Harrison, however, may have a “strong case” to receive reimbursement for taxes paid on the property, improvements made to the house, and even the care she provided to her stepfather in his final days.
Firm Trusts and Estates Practice Group partner Mary Clements Pajak, who specializes in probate and family law, stated, “Depending on what that amount adds up to, it may give her leverage to exchange her services for the value of the home and keep the home instead of cash.”
The entire article appears in the February 7, 2019 issue of The Boston Globe.