Care Contracts for the Elderly?

By Sharon A. Burgess

Care Contracts for the Elderly

Caring for our loved ones as they age is difficult for many families, and the best decision can be made after exploring all available options. Due to the many changes in the laws that are affecting our seniors, it is important to seek the advice of an elder law attorney to determine what benefits are available to assist in their care.

Many families wish to obtain and provide the needed care for their families in their own homes. Without long term care insurance to assist with the cost of 24-hour care, this may not be an option for a loved one. When family members choose to provide the care that is needed for their parents, grandparents, or loved ones, this could have a financial impact on them. If a family member is required to quit their job, or take a family leave, they are not able to receive the income that their own family depends on.

In deciding whether a family member should be paid for the services that they are providing, it is important to take into consideration the various government benefits that may be needed in the future in assisting with their care. The Aid and Attendance benefit offered by the Veterans Association allows for children or family members to be paid for providing the care needed. They have specific forms and care giver contracts that need to be completed for a care giver to obtain payment; however, they allow the payment to be made to a family member.

The Department of Human Services, however, in applying for Medicaid for an elderly person who has entered a nursing home, may determine these payments to children or family members as gifts. Any gifts made in the five-year look-back period would cause the person applying for Medicaid to be penalized for the dollar amount gifted. There are specific requirements for care giver contracts, doctor forms, and medical records that are required prior to a family member being paid to care for a loved one. Even when these requirements are met, the payments could be determined to be gifting when a Medicaid application is submitted.

A person wishing to stay in their home will want to discuss all of these options with not only their medical care provider, but also an elder law attorney. Sharon A. Burgess practices in the areas of probate/estate planning, long term care planning and elder law, and business and real estate transactions at SMITH BOVILL, P.C.