Recently, a lady came to our office to discuss her family’s situation. Her husband, a dementia patient, had been in a nursing home for almost three years. She recently received a threatening letter from the nursing home’s lawyer because she was behind on her bills.
The problem wasn’t that she didn’t want to pay. She did want to pay. She was trying to pay. The problem was that during the previous three years she had already given them close to $300,000 of her liquid assets. Now, she had to sell the family’s cabin to come up with the funds and it was taking time. She explained the situation to the nursing home’s billing office, yet she still received a letter from the nursing home’s lawyer.
So, she brought the letter to our office. After reviewing her situation, we explained that there were some strategies we could implement, and she may not have to sell the cabin. In fact, it looked like we may be able to preserve her remaining savings and gain eligibility for Medicaid to pay the nursing home.
Then we moved on to the painful part of the conversation: “If you’re telling me you can save all my money now, could you have saved my money for the last three years?” Yes, we explained, had we met a few years ago, we probably could have saved the $300,000. “Why didn’t anyone tell us?”
The nursing home is a care provider and it is worth noting that she wasn’t unhappy with the care her husband was getting. The nursing home, though, is not your financial or legal advisor. Sometimes the nursing home staff doesn’t know there are options. Some nursing homes have unfortunate business practices that prioritize private pay residents over Medicaid residents.
If you or a family member needs a nursing home, you should look at the situation as a legal problem. Without planning, the government’s rules require you to go broke. With planning, you can save significant assets. But this is key… don’t expect the nursing home to solve your legal problem. Give us a call for a free consultation.