Is a beneficiary entitled to reimbursement for costs that they incurred in maintaining the property?

My father is the last survivor of 4 siblings. Several years ago the city was going to condemn a building that he inherited if code violations were not repaired My father asked his sisters to help pay for the repairs but no one wanted to. In order to not lose the building, he alone paid to have new windows, a roof, back porch and siding put on the building. This was at a cost of over $24,000; his life savings at the time. Now they want to sell the building and not reimburse him for the money he spent to save the building years ago. He has paid taxes, insurance and utilities for as long as he has lived there (over 20 years). Is he entitled to reimbursement? They claim to be co-owners since our grandparents left no Will?

Asked on October 14, 2013 under Estate Planning, Illinois


M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

If there was no Will then the intestacy statute in Illinois will govern the distribution of the estate.  Most likely they are correct: they all equally own the property if they are the children of the siblings.  They inherit through their parent's estate.  But that should be checked.  Now, here is my concern: they may say that in exchange for his paying rent all those years to the other owners of the property he was to make repairs to the property which he did.  That is a very good argument. So your Dad needs to say that the agreement was to pay the taxes, insurance and utilities and general upkeep but that "major" repairs were to be split amongst all the owners.  And that is the stand he should take and he should consider speaking with some one about placing a lien for the work done so the matter will have to be dealt with on sale.  Good luck.

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