Liability for Long Term Care

You go to sleep one night and wake up in the morning only to find that your mother or your aunt has become ill and is in the hospital. You find out that she had a stroke and that a lengthy stay in a long term care facility is likely. You are advised that your family member being discharged from hospital. The physician and discharge planner suggest that she should be placed in an assisted living facility or nursing home. At that point, it would be in your family’s best interest to hire a credentialed social worker or geriatric care manager to help with your loved one’s placement in a care facility. When you decide upon the appropriate care facility you may be asked to sign the application and documents necessary to place your family member in the assisted living facility or nursing home. The question that you should ask at that point is whether you are personally liable to pay for their cost of care.

One way to be certain that you in no way can be held liable for their cost of care is to sign all the documents as your loved one’s power of attorney provided that you have been asked to act in that capacity. If your loved one is capable of signing the documents, it is in everyone’s best interest to have her sign the agreements. When you sign the documents necessary to place your mom or aunt in a nursing home, you can only be liable to the facility for using their assets appropriately to pay for her cost of care. If either one runs out of money to pay for the cost of care, then you will be required to use your best efforts to secure governmental benefits to pay the long term care facility. If you fail to do so, you could be personally liable for their cost of care.

Assisted living facilities offer a more complicated situation. Before signing an agreement with such a facility, it is always best to seek legal counsel to make certain that you are signing the documents in such a way that you will not be liable for their cost of care. There are fewer governmental benefits available to senior citizens and their families to pay for an assisted living facility. Keep in mind that there is a veteran’s benefit known as Aid and Attendance which is available to veterans and their spouse who served in the military during wartime. This benefit can assist families with a loved one who is in this type of facility or who lives at home. It is always wise to take the agreement with you and review it prior to signing. Better yet go to a long term care professional, review it with them and obtain their guidance prior to signing such a document.

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