It may be the worst nightmare for your parents or other senior loved one. After a lifetime of hard work and savings, the need for a nursing home may cause them to lose it all. While planning for long-term care may be best done before the care is indicated, that is not always possible. Sometimes an abrupt medical event or an unforeseen accident may result in a senior being placed in a nursing home, or perhaps, the senior was unaware of the necessity of long-term care planning. So, how can you help Florida seniors protect themselves, when entering a nursing home?
If the senior owns a home and Medicaid assists with the cost of a nursing home, following the senior’s passing, Medicaid may place a lien against the home, also known as “estate recovery,” for the cost paid out for the nursing home. If the senior owns a home and Medicaid is contributing to the cost of the nursing home, it may be important for the senior and/or family members to consult an elder law attorney as soon as possible after placement in the nursing home. There are some situations, which may prevent estate recovery, such as a spouse residing in the home, or a disabled child. In some instances, the senior may be able to transfer the home without creating a situation of Medicaid ineligibility.
Unfortunately, seniors who enter nursing homes can also become victims of financial elder abuse via less than honest employees, who obtain their personal information. Seniors should be instructed not to log into personal accounts from shared computers to avoid having personal information stolen. Some nursing homes offer banking services. Residents who bank with the nursing home, however, may unknowingly have funds withdrawn from their account. Another risk is that when pension and social security checks are mailed directly to a facility, they may be stolen. The nursing home is supposed to deposit such checks in a trust account and use them to pay the resident’s bills, but there have been instances where the funds were misappropriated. Not only is the resident out the money, but if his or her nursing home bill is not paid, the resident may be forced to leave the facility, as well. Thus, when a Florida senior enters a nursing home, it may be best to have a trusted friend or relative appointed as the durable power of attorney and to keep the senior’s private funds separate. The power of attorney can oversee the senior’s finances and help ensure that no suspect transactions are occurring.
In general, if you know a senior, who has entered a nursing home, it can be a good idea to meet the staff of the nursing home and visit frequently. Our office can assist with creating the proper documents to protect the senior’s assets and to safeguard them from the potential of financial abuse. Please reach out to our office today to schedule a meeting.