Your mother has recently fallen and broken her hip. Her doctor informs you that it is not safe for her to return home and that she needs to go into a skilled nursing facility. You get her settled in a nursing home, but soon realize that the monthly cost of nursing home care is going to wipe out all of your mom’s money within a few months. The nursing home tells you that mom is going to need to apply for MassHealth long-term care benefits. And guess what? They will do the application for you for free! Sounds like a good deal, right?
However, if you consult with an elder law attorney, they will tell you that having the nursing home complete the application is not what is usually best for mom. Here are a few reasons why:
The nursing home will put their own interests ahead of your mother’s interests. Even if mom does not have much money left and has not done any planning in advance, there may still be some last minute planning tools available to your mom. If the nursing home is taking care of the application, they are unlikely to recommend these techniques and sometimes are not even aware that they exist.
While MassHealth applications on their face seem fairly simple, in reality, they can be extremely tricky. Nursing homes are not as well equipped to handle the twists and turns that a MassHealth application process may entail. This role is best suited for an experienced elder law attorney who is keeping up with the ever changing laws in this area.
In order to qualify for MassHealth, your mom is going to have to spend down most of her assets before she will become eligible for benefits. As part of the spend down, she is allowed to pay legal fees. Since your mom is going to have to spend down her money anyway, it makes sense that she should spend it on an attorney who will act as her legal advocate, rather than just paying more to the nursing home.
Helping your mother, or any other loved one, get settled in a nursing home can be a stressful time. Besides the obvious emotional trauma that this experience may cause, the legal and financial stakes are high. Getting approved for MassHealth is how the majority of elders are able to stay in a nursing home and receive the care that they need. Whether or not you ultimately hire an elder law attorney to complete the application, you should at least explore all your options before allowing the nursing home to complete the application. If you would like to set up a complimentary initial consultation, please contact our office.
Copyright © 2023 Ladimer Law Office PC
209 West Central Street
Natick, MA 01760
Ladimer Law specializes in estate planning. We protect our clients, their heirs, and their assets by listening closely, knowing the law, and executing estate plans that fit and evolve.