Hi again, OK, with regard to your post:
"I live in Arkansas and my brother in law who lives in Arizona sent my mother in law to live with us because he could not take care of her any longer. ------- OK.
"Her social security did not follow her here. -------- This means that someone took it, typically. Did you not report her change of address to the SSA, and change her bank to one near where she moved? I will assume you did not and that her moneys continued to be deposited into her account in her former residence. Also, if she was not capable, she would have had a Representative Payee who used her moneys to pay her living expenses. Since she no longer paid her way to live with BIL, since she didn't live there, those moneys should STILL be in the account they were sent to, unless he stole them, perhaps.
"We did not have a problem with that because we were willing and able to take care of financial needs. ------ That is not right. Her income is hers, and while it is kind to help someone financially with no income, she had income and her RP was required to pay her bills with it, including her housing, food, medical, clothing, vacations, personal items, etc.
"However, once Mom died, my brother in law told us there was no money for a funeral so we had to cremate Mom. ------- The question is, where did her 11 months of income go? He is the custodian of her money and if he spent it on himself, he can be held liable. He is committing theft if he used it for himself AND fraud potentially. SSA can charge HIM with that, as well as "overpayment" and require he pay back OR take it from HIS current or future SS benefits.
"My question is should that money have followed Mom, ------ YES.
"and since it didn't, do we have any options to get that money back? ------ Yes, speak to your BIL, and explain that he must send the 11 months of HER money to you, since she has lots of bills (including her share of rent/housing for herself, food, medical, transportation to doctors, etc. That it is a crime for him to have embezzled her money. You can let him know that if he doesn't send MOM's money to you to pay her bills, you will have to have the SSA get involved.