Interesting. Well, I should start by saying that because the nuances of every situation are different, this information should not be construed as complete or advice without consulting in person with legal counsel. That said, I can see why your attorney might feel a bit vulnerable, but I would ordinarily feel pretty strongly that a parent's transfer of money would not be treated as a loan.
This comes up fairly often in contentious divorces
, and 90% of the time, the real situation is that the parents are upset at their child's spouse and simply want their money back like they would want their money back for tickets to a lousy show. Gifts are irrevocable, but a loan does not necessarily have to be memorialized with a promissory note, so the question for a court is whether the transfer of money was a gift or a loan. To answer that question, the court will oftentimes look to the terms of the alleged loan and the behavior of the parties. For example, was there a pay-back date? Was there interest? Were there regular installment payments? Was the loan a one-time occurrence? If there is no evidence of an expectation to be repaid and no prior evidence of an intent to enforce the loan, a court (and anyone with common sense) is typically going to find that the money was a gift.
Where one spouse is handling the financial transactions, the argument is usually even tougher for the parents simply because the money has to be traced through the child to the spouse. I can understand your attorney not wanting to declare victory because you can never be sure how evidence would be interpreted by a court and you don't want to set expectations too high for your client (it's better to risk expectations being exceeded by being wrong than risk disappointment by being wrong). And as I mentioned, the nuances of every case are different so your attorney is really the only one in a reliable position to estimate the outcome or to advise you through this process. But all that said, I would generally not like the odds of the parents seeking reimbursement.
Let me know if further clarification is needed. Thanks.