When can $50 Cost You $56,000?

We had a client come to our office in tears.

She was the “responsible daughter” and it seemed like whenever there was a family problem, it fell to her. She got her father into the nursing home, and signed the contract for him

She visited her father at the nursing home nearly every day to make sure he was getting the care he needed. She talked with the nursing home business office. When it came time to file the Medicaid application, the facility assured her that there would not be a problem and that they would handle the paperwork for her.

Five months later she received a letter from the nursing home, saying that the Department of Social Services (Medicaid agency) had denied the application, and she owed the nursing home $56,000. This was very confusing to her. That’s when she showed up in our office, looking for an explanation.

We asked her to bring along the paperwork and when she did, we quickly discovered the “mistake.” To qualify for Medicaid, in Maryland, your assets must be below $2,500. Father has $2,550, in his account. Therefore, he was $50 overscale. Consequently, he did not qualify for Medicaid. Therefore, he owed the nursing five months of care plus his expenses.

Thus, to qualify he had to spend $51. But this was not the only problem. Unbeknownst to her, she had signed the contract as the responsible party. Thus, as her father had no money, the nursing home was coming after her for the $56,000.

She could have avoided this by signing, the nursing home contract, not as the responsible party but as the power of attorney.

For the sake of $51, it can cost you $56,000.

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