When a loved one prepares to enter a nursing home or other facility, you must take several steps to ensure their assets will be protected.
Many falsely believe that long-term care facilities cannot garner funds for a loved one’s care; in fact, the individual requiring care and their family can lose a significant amount of their assets if a contract is not properly vetted and reviewed. However, by taking specific measures such as requesting a qualified elder law review the contract, you can protect both you and your loved ones from experiencing unpleasant consequences and financial surprises.
Because of the often complex nature of long-term care facility contracts, it is imperative to have an experienced elder law attorney review a contract before consummating a financial arrangement.
These agreements are written to protect the nursing home, not you or your loved ones. These contracts might have specific guarantor clauses in them that might hold the family members personally liable for their loved one’s nursing home financial obligations.
Unfortunately, individuals or their family members might be so overwhelmed with the medical crisis they are dealing with that they just want to expedite the contract signing. By having an experienced elder law attorney review an agreement with a nursing home, someone can prevent unwanted surprises. Otherwise, someone’s son or daughter or whoever else may be legally liable could potentially face a lawsuit for unpaid bills.
Another way that individuals can protect their assets is through proper planning. If you or a loved one is planning on entering a nursing home, the first thing to do is to look at what legal documents someone already has—and which ones need to be created. It is also important to act sooner rather than later. Many times, someone is entering a nursing home because they are dealing with declining health. However, by waiting too long to create these documents, the individual may be considered legally incapacitated, creating another host of issues.
You want to make sure that someone entering a nursing home has signed a durable financial power of attorney and an advanced medical directive. A durable financial power of attorney appoints an Agent to handle financial issues and will stay in effect unless the grantor dies or revokes the document. An advance medical directive appoints a medical agent to make health care decisions. With these essential documents in place, the individual in need of nursing care has provided someone else with the ability to make essential decisions on his or her behalf. These decisions include decisions related to his or her well-being and financial affairs, including paying bills and signing contracts on behalf of the person in care. Without taking this step, someone may be forced to have a court-appointed guardian handle these matters.
There are other steps to take to help safeguard someone’s assets. For a married couple, this can include protecting a spouse’s assets or jointly held assets by placing it in the name of the other spouse. Assets can be protected from a nursing home and not preclude Medicaid eligibility if they are converted to a Medicaid Qualifying Trust or the assets are spent down on home repairs, pre-paid funeral trusts, or other approved expenses.
Consult with an experienced elder law attorney if you or a loved one is preparing to enter a nursing home or other facility, as it will help legally protect your family and eliminate future unwanted financial issues.
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