Let’s face it,the cost of long-term nursing care is tremendous. Some individuals plan to pay privately until they have no funds left. Others, however – especially married couples – prefer to do some planning that can preserve the marital assets to benefit the spouse who’s still living in the community. The following story will illustrate why you should call an elder law attorney before a nursing home placement is made to try and avoid what happened to my client who I will call “Mary.”
John was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s dementia and could no longer reside at home with his wife, Mary. Prior to onset of the Alzheimer’s disease, John signed an estate plan naming his wife, Mary, as his attorney-in-fact. Mary made the difficult but necessary decision to place John at Simple Streams Nursing Home, a local facility with decent online reviews. John eventually adjusted to his new “home” and appeared satisfied with the facility. Mary signed the nursing home admissions agreement as John’s attorney-in-fact. After paying Simple Streams at a monthly rate of $12,000 per month for six (6) months, a friend tells Mary that Medicaid could pick up the tab, and that she could potentially preserve enough money for herself to live comfortably in the home she once shared with John.
Mary eventually confronts a staff member in the business office at Simple Streams who advises Mary that in order for John to qualify for Medicaid, the couple needs to be “spent down to nothing.” This conversation took place seven (7) months after John’s institutionalization. By now, Mary had paid the facility approximately $84,000. Mary becomes understandably frightened at the idea of spending all of her hard-earned money on a nursing home.
Mary meets with an elder law attorney and learns that she does not need to be “spent down to the nothing”, and in fact, a great deal of the couple’s marital assets and income can be preserved for Mary going forward. The plan, although a lifesaver for Mary, takes a month to take effect because some of the couple’s assets and income need to be lined up according to her attorney’s instructions. Month eight (8) comes and goes, and Mary is out nearly $100,000. Mary learned the hard way that she could have saved a significant portion of her money, and even a portion of John’s income each month, had she consulted with her elder law attorney before or shortly after John was placed in the facility.
The moral of the story is this: nursing homes are businesses just like any other. As a business, nursing homes look to make profits in order to benefit their shareholders, staff, etc.. Medicaid pays for residents who qualify and who reside in a Medicaid-accepting facility, but the Medicaid program does not pay the facility nearly as much as a resident who pays out-of-pocket. It should be noted that under both state and federal law, the quality of care provided to a Medicaid recipient must be the same that is provided to a private-pay resident.
When confronting a situation like Mary’s, it is important that you seek out the advice and guidance of an elder law attorney. The attorneys at Fink Rosner Ershow-Levenberg Marinaro Marinaro, LLC are experienced in guiding people like Mary through the nursing home admissions process and beyond. Call today to setup a consultation at (732) 382-6070, or by visiting www.finkrosnerershow-levenberg.com and using the attorney profiles to schedule a consultation online.