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Court Rules That Aunt Who Helped Nephew Buy Home in Exchange for the Promise of a Place to Live Has a Case
- July 12th, 2018
[This article was originally published on April 13, 2010. The links were updated on July 12, 2018.]
Often seniors will make deals with other members of their family to secure their care or living arrangements as they age. But sometimes these deals can go awry, as was the case with a client of an ElderLawAnswers member attorney.
Local Elder Law Attorneys in Ashburn, VA
Felinton Elder Law & Estate Planning Centers
Mindy Felinton concentrates in the areas of Medicaid planning, Veterans' Benefits, asset protection, nursing home planning, elder law, wills, estate planning, trusts, living wills, powers of attorney, probate administration and trust administration and began her legal career 30 years ago as an Assistant State Attorney...
Margaret A. O'Reilly, PC
Margaret A. O’Reilly is an estate planning and elder law attorney with over thirty-five years of legal experience. Attorney O’Reilly graduated from Duke University with a degree in psychology, and received her law degree from Northeastern University School of Law in Boston, Massachusetts. For over 15 y...
Hammond and Associates, LLC, Elder Law, Estate Planning, Wills, Trusts, Probate
For Jeffrey Hammond, the practice of Elder Law is personal. Jeff’s many years of experience in law and in business did not prepare him for the crisis he faced in 2005 and 2006 when his father suffered a stroke and both of his parents suffered from dementia and other medical problems. At that time, Jeff began an i...
In 2006, Hannah Bryant helped her nephew, Mark Cribbie, and his wife buy a bigger house by contributing $217,550 to the purchase. Ms. Bryant, who lives in Massachusetts, gave the money in exchange for a promise that the Cribbies would allow her to live with them in the new house for the rest of her life.
Unfortunately, the arrangement did not work out as planned and soon Ms. Bryant was living alone in senior housing. When the Cribbies refused to return any of the money, Ms. Bryant sued them for breach of contract. A trial court threw the case out before it could go to trial, agreeing with the Cribbies that because Ms. Bryant had signed two letters for the mortgage company saying that the money transferred was a gift and that she did not expect repayment, the Cribbies did not owe her anything. Ms. Bryant appealed.
Now the Appeals Court of Massachusetts has overturned the lower court's decision and sent the case back for trial. The court points out that the two letters to the mortgage company were written well after the parties had reached their agreement, and that one could infer that although Ms. Bryant was not expecting repayment of the money, "she nonetheless expected that the Cribbies would provide her a place to live for her lifetime."
The twin morals of this story are, first, consult with legal counsel before giving over your life's savings, and second, if you've been wronged, don't give up. Even if one judge doesn't see it your way, with good lawyering the appeals court may. In this case, the good lawyering came from Jeffrey A. Bloom of the Boston ElderLawAnswers member firm of Margolis & Bloom, who represented Ms. Bryant.
Last Modified: 07/12/2018