A question about nursing home/inheritance

carrie630January 18, 2012

I've always wondered about this and so I am going to make up a scenario - but this could apply to anyone here on the forum (as well as to myself...)

Let's say you have a 90 year old mother and she is in a nursing home. Before she enters, she had $100,000 in the bank

Question No. 1 - Is that $100,000 put in an "account" in her name? If she passes away let's say two weeks after she enters, does the money she had revert back to her will or does the home keep it? I would be surprised if the answer is that the home keeps it.

But an even bigger question... what happens if that woman in the home inherits money from her deceased sister - a substantial amount... does that money get put in the pot with her $100,000 (obviously to be used monthly as payment for her stay) but again, if she dies before the amount is used up - does all of that money belong to her children (who are in her will?) or does the home keep the money to take care of the others in that home?

I hope I wasn't too "redundant" but I think the question is simple...



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You pay nursing home bills month by month. You do not prepay, certainly not $100,000.

Yes, you are being redundant. You need to talk to a trust and estate attorney in your area who specialized in elder law. You keep asking variations of the same question over and over again, and it just doesn't sound right.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2012 at 8:29PM
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I think it would be unusual for an account to be set up by nursing home for a patient larger than what might be needed for some small incidentals, such as haircuts, Etc.
Certainly not a large amount.

I believe that the usual thing, if the patient did not have any family, would be a court appointed person that would oversee the funds.

I agree with Sushipup, your questions sound as if you really need to get legal opinions for your State and for your relationship with the patient.

A patient, such as a 90 yr old mother, should have long ago given a Power of Attorney to someone to oversee the distribution of her funds for her care. They, not the nursing home, would be in charge. If she inherited more funds, they would still be HER funds. And the person with the legal power of attorney would be the one that paid the nursing home. Any unused funds would then go to her estate.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2012 at 8:46PM
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I made up this scenario - it is NOT my life, I am asking a general question that many of my friends have wondered about also.

I am sorry if my question annoyed any of you - you didn't have to answer it if you were annoyed.

If you noticed any other postings I have made, they are all different situations. This is not based on my family at all - as I DON'T have a 90 year old mother...

Thanks, though for adding any information I wasn't aware of - I will pass anything I learn on as some of us will be in those situations at some point in our lives.


    Bookmark   January 18, 2012 at 8:52PM
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Sorry, I didn't mean to sound as if I meant you. I guess I was writting as if to anyone with this sort of problem.

Really...everyone should be aware of the potential problems with the elderly. Not only those that have physical problems, but those that also have mental ones.

The laws vary from state to state. Some will be a lot different, others, not so much. It can be a big mess if it isn't handled properly. There can also be a lot of mis-understanding amongst the children if not handled correctly.

These matters of money and nursing homes are soooo important.

Tell your friends that even if they know all the answers today, tomorrow, the State Board that oversees Nursing Homes could come up with a brand new pile of regulations.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2012 at 9:37PM
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Thanks, agnes - I love reading your posts, they are so informative... and I didn't get the feeling YOU were annoyed at all...

I wrote that I didn't want to be "redundant" (wordy) not repetitive - but actually, I think I HAVE been repetitive with my questions and I apologize for that.... :0)


    Bookmark   January 19, 2012 at 8:25AM
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Asking questions isn't a problem. But be careful you're not 'putting the cart before the horse'. When positing questions about hypothetical situations, the problem is that the answer is not always placed in context.

There are way too many people who do not understand the difference between state laws and federal laws concerning the elderly and inheritance issues, in addition to the separate issues of Medicare vs Medicaid. Because of this, a public forum is only going to be of very general use, which may or may not be applicable in a real-life situation.

One important thing most people don't realize is that there is a variety of different types of licensed and unlicensed facilities. True, they fall into certain specific categories - but the legal agreement you sign to get into one facility may be quite different than the legal agreement used by another facility down the street. You can only say that **generally** X follows W, or Y happens before Z, but neither may be true for everyone, depending upon where they live, what their assets are and how they are legally held, whether they have a living spouse or not, etc.

Collecting separate little 'factlets' doesn't actually build a correct picture of the complex issues that can surround the elderly. That's the real danger in the hypothetical situations you're trying out - it's glossing over the individual details, but it's the details that are actually are the most important in determining what happens next, or what the available options are.

What I'd suggest is that anyone dealing with the elderly should know first of all what the inheritance and estate tax laws are IN THEIR OWN STATE. And they need to stay on top of any changes passed by their State Legislature right up to the day they die. A lot of estate tax law changes are made retroactive to one year prior to the new law's passage date.

Then there is the issue of a living spouse. Is it worth doing a division of assets? What if there are children from a previous marriage? Who's got the power of attorney? Who's the agent for the durable healthcare and POLST? How are the assets held - jointly or separately? Is there a formal or informal agreement between siblings to take care of the parents? Is it strong enough a case to be taken to court if necessary? Most importantly, does the person needing care live in a state where the family can be FORCED to pay the facility care costs (22 states in the US have such laws and some are beginning to enforce them)?

All this is personal, individualized data that can affect the seemingly simple question of "who pays/who inherits what?"


    Bookmark   January 20, 2012 at 1:28PM
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I'm coming to this a few days late but having experienced something like this with a parent, there were some points I wanted to add to the information provided in previous posts.

Medical frailty does not automatically mean mental frailty. Many residents continue to manage their own financial affairs or may do so with minimal assistance.

They may also have made financial/legal arrangements prior to entering nursing care (even years before) which make many of the OP's questions irrelevant.

Nursing care often comes as the final step in a series of life moves taking years. In those years an individual may have decided to shelter certain assets in a trust. In many cases trusts are immune to claims by creditors, including the state. By the same token, the owner(s) may already have chosen to sell the home and the monies derived from that sale may have been placed in a trust. During the individual's lifetime those monies are available to provide living expenses. If some of those monies remain in the trust, after death they are distributed to the beneficiaries.

Other assets (i.e. a small personal bank account, for instance) may be claimed by the state seeking reimbursement for any additional expense incurred. Some states are more aggressive in their pursuit. As a taxpayer I can't object to that, as the money is a legitimate obligation.

Mainly I wanted to point out that the options may have been pre-determined by the individual, and any relatives or concerned persons are bound by those terms and by the law.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2012 at 5:04AM
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