The nursing home said my brother and I can be charged with fraud? Any input? - AgingCare.com

The nursing home said my brother and I can be charged with fraud? Any input?

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The last six months of his life my dad was in a nursing home. He died in May. After Medicare dropped him we paid the nursing home each month out of my dad's social security while we waited for him to be approved for Medicaid. He died while we were waiting for the Medicaid to come through which it finally did, after he died. I guess there was an outstanding balance at the NH when he died because my brother kept getting bills in the mail from the NH. We didn't pay any attention to them. Yesterday my brother received a call from the bookkeeper at the NH and she told him that unless we paid that outstanding balance (it's around $500) we would be charged with fraud by the Social Security Administration. My brother told her how ridiculous that was and got off the phone. He was totally caught off guard. Neither myself or my brother signed anything at the NH stating that we would be responsible for any outstanding balances. Our name is on nothing. I went online and found out that we weren't liable but when someone is using heavy-handed techniques as I feel this bookkeeper is doing, using words like "responsibility" and "fraud", one tends to get a little nervous. As soon as I find proof online that we're not responsible I'm going to email this bookkeeper but until then I thought I'd run this by all of you and see what you all have to say. Thanks.

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Thanks KevinB, I did check out the familial responsibility law and since I'm in MO, it doesn't apply here but I too read about the case in PA.
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I like the 1st response above! I don't think you would have too much activity over $500, but if someone has a larger debt, you might want to check out FILIAL RESPONSIBILITY. In 30 states, the NH's can come after the children of the debtors to get paid. There was a case in PA about 1 1/2 years ago that went after 1 of 3 children to pay $93k to the corporate owner of a large group of Nursing Homes. He lost appeals and from what I remember, he had to take his siblings to court so he wasn't the only one burdened!
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Now that is a great title for your book...... Dying is soooooo complicated!
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Thanks, Igloo! :-)

Probate? Estate? HA! My brother and I had to pay for my dad's cremation out of our own pockets. My dad owned nothing, he had been living with me in a rental house prior to his placement in a nursing home. He was also heavily in debt and after he died I received call upon call about these debts. See, once he died I thought I was doing the right thing by calling his debtors and letting them know that he had died and that there was no estate, no money, no nothing. Once I called them they had MY phone number and used it relentlessly. I sent out copies of the death certificates, screened calls, explained to them over and over and finally....finally the calls and letters stopped coming. There were no huge debts, just a bunch of little ones that added up. Several of the collection agencies I spoke to told me that since I was POA that I was responsible for the debt but I knew better. Talking to these people became like a hobby or a sport to me. It was almost fun. I felt like, "You want to call MY phone and talk to me about a debt I DON'T owe? Okay, TALK!"

Dying is so complicated.
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You are spot-on in your approach on all this. You signed nothing, not your issue.

That $ 500.00 debt is a debt of your late father's estate. If you do probate, then the NH can go and file a claim against the estate and just wait in line to get paid. Lots of luck for that to happen. If you do probate, you or your brother or whomever would be the executor of the estate can get paid an administration fee for being executor and that gets paid first. Plus probate can run for a while (like in TX it's 4 years) and there is no way the NH or it's legal is going to spend the time to go through the newspapers to track down the hearing notice in the paper, file the document and then go to court for $ 500.00. So really the NH is just s....out of luck if going that approach. The bookkeeper knows this too, I would imagine. Now I doubt you all are doing probate, because if Dad was at the point of qualifying for Medicaid, then he had no assets, so no need. Really once they are on Medicaid, the only asset they could possibly have would have been their home, and MERP (Medicaid Estate Recovery) will be there with their legally binding hand out first on the house in probate. Again NH is sol.

As you dad is deceased, the SSA really isn't going to get involved. And even if they did, you all can show that you did the required co-pay to the NH with his SS income. No fraud there.

Now what you & bro NEED to be on the lookout for is a letter from a debt collector on all this. The problem with getting a debtor letter is that there will be something in it that reads,......."if we do not receive something from you to challenge this debt within 30 days, this debt will be considered valid". So if you all just ignore that, then the debt collection can go after you for the $ 500 and then tack on all sorts of fees.
So you HAVE TO send them a certified letter with a return registered receipt ( the green postcard at the USPO) that says " this is not my debt, I am not responsible for this debt or any other debt from Mrs. Mary Smith Jones, or from the estate of Mrs Mary Smith Jones". For more fun, you can demand that they provide to you within 30 days all copies of each and every document related to this debt including all contract with the NH, every provider that was paid by the NH on your mother;s account and details on all reimbursements paid to the NH by Medicare, Medicaid and any other state program or insurer for your mothers care from abd date to xyz date. They have to do this too - as it is required by federal law - because if they don't then they can do nothing else with the debt. I would do this just for sheer fun as it takes you just a few minutes to do the letter and mail it and it will really piss off the debt collector and the NH as they will have to send it to them and they will have to deal with it. Which they won't......

Oh and be aware that if the NH sends it to a debt collector and you do the above, the debt collector can sell the "debt" to another debt collector, who too can contact you. If you get in this cycle, it will take maybe 2 years to run it's course. So keep the letter on your computer to be able to send again....& again.
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