How do I make sure I am not financially responsible for dad's care expenses?


I am the legal guardian of my 82 year old Dad in NJ. I am managing his finances for him and expect him to run out of $ in about 3-4 years. I want to make sure that I am not responsible to pay money for my Dad out of my own pocket. We have seen an elder care attorney but she has left a lot of things out.

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I cared for my dad in my home for over 5 years. Then he went into a nursing home and died 6 months later. Over the years I had signed papers on my dad's behalf, signing his name, and I was never held liable for anything financial. My dad left behind a bit of debt and I was not responsible for once cent. When my dad went into the nursing home I did not sign anything that stated I would be responsible if my dad were unable to pay. Once my dad died his creditors came sniffing around looking for a spouse (there wasn't one) to hold responsible for the debts but again, I was never on the hook for anything and my dad's debt just went away.

(P.S. I was my dad's POA)
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I ran across this article - and it is something we as caregivers need to know, as well as our own children. It is never too early to have 'the talk' with our kids.
We can always thank Uncle Sam too. :0)
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Guardians are not expected to use their own money for their wards. In fact, guardians can get paid for their services.

If Dad's money runs out in 3 years, or Dad needs more expensive care and runs out even sooner, then what? Medicaid is the usual answer. Talk to the attorney about this and how best to prepare.

Hospice is an awesome program. I've recently enrolled my husband. When the time comes for your dad I highly recommend it. But it does not solve financial issues. It provides a nurse visit 2 or 3 times a week, a social worker maybe a couple times a month, and chaplin visits. All of these people are trained specifically to deal with issues of dying, and can add greatly to comfort in the final stage. But Dad will still need a place to live and probably 24/7 monitoring and care.

Medicaid is the viable option to be looking into at this point, in my opinion.

Good luck to you.
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From what I have learned so far, one of the tricky issues about Medicaid for long term care is that it must be a medical necessity in Texas. There is a difference between custodial care and care that requires skilled nursing care. New Jersey has some filial laws on the books, you need to research how they are currently being applied.

My husband is his mom's guardian. One of the biggest tasks is trying to make choices about her unknown medical future. While she currently requires 24 hour monitoring for safety issues, we will have to see if her medical requirements add up to long term care by medical necessity when her funds run out. There are a lot of support programs available, but they vary from state to state.

He has liquidated all of her assets including her home and car. Her personal funds are paying for her care each month at a nursing home. When those funds are gone her income will not be enough to cover the cost of her nursing home. If she is not eligible for medical necessity long term care at that time we will have to figure out what to do next.

Like you, projections show that her money will last approx. 3 years. His siblings used to be concerned about getting an inheritance, after he explained the situation and showed them the numbers, they are now concerned about having to help share in the cost of her care down the line.
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pookie, I don't know much about the laws of guardianship, but I imagine you can follow much the same course as others do when money runs out. What stage of Alz is your father? I ask because it gives some idea of how much more money he will need. Since Alz is progressive, chances are that he will need to go to a more supervised setting in the future. As his money is running out, you can apply for Medicaid for him. You will want to check on this long before time to apply, of course, to make sure all the spend-down ducks are in a row. With Alz, your father may also qualify for Hospice care. Hospice will accept Medicare for payment, and does not charge beyond what they receive from Medicare.

Have you liquidated your father's estate? Please check with your elder care lawyer about rules your state has about qualifying for Medicaid. There is usually a 5-year lookback period, so all money transfers made during this time have to fall in line with Medicaid rules to avoid disqualification.

I hope that your father's money holds out as long as he needs it. However, you will want to look into what you do if he does need the Medicaid safety net. I am glad that it is there for people. If you keep your father debt-free, you won't have to worry about being responsible. (I should add unless you live in a filial recovery state, which can be a very difficult situation for some. There is another thread running about this in the Discussion section.)
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