Are Nursing Homes Guardians of the Elderly?
September 11, 2019
A law was passed in 1993 to allow nursing homes to seek guardianship of elderly residents as a means to collect on debt accrued in providing care to the individual in question. The law was intended to address the lack of guardianship when it arose in cases where a resident became incapacitated and without a responsible family member or appointed representative to make financial decisions on their behalf. These types of situations can make it difficult for care facilities to get paid for the services they provide to care for the patient.
Under the law, the patient may consent to having the nursing home appointed to act as their guardian. However, it is not uncommon that the home initiates the court proceedings to be named guardian after the patient is too disabled to make the call.
In practice, the law allows nursing homes to facilitate the arrangements necessary for the patient’s private health insurance or pubic Medicaid benefits to pay for their care. When a patient is unable to make those arrangements for themselves, the nursing home is unable to provide services without suing the estate—a lengthy and costly process—or discharging the patient. The law was intended to address the problem.
Exploitation of the Law
Unfortunately, cases have come to light in which the legitimate business concerns that led to the law have been twisted and abused by some nursing home administrators who manipulate the system for the gain of the facility without proper regard for the individual resident whose care they assumed.
These predatory nursing home practices give a bad name to facilities that provide genuine and appropriate financial management that benefits their patients. They also serve as a warning to those planning a future involving a nursing home to appoint an appropriate guardian to oversee their finances should they become incapacitated and to ensure that they are not left unprotected from unscrupulous nursing home administrators.
In the most regrettable instances, it may become necessary for nursing home guardianship to be set up to supersede any end-of-life planning in place. Even a person who has taken steps to set up a will and appoint specific advocates may find that those thoughtful preparations are drowned out by a court order in favor of a nursing home’s pursuance of a guardianship arrangement.
It is understandable that a facility might have to pursue guardianship if an appointed representative is neglecting their responsibility to work out the financial arrangements to support the patient’s care. As the law sees it, the patient would suffer harm if the nursing home were forced to discharge them due to lack of payment. Therefore, the law provides the nursing home a way to secure payment by overriding the appointed representative’s oversight of the patient’s finances.
Brooklyn Guardianship Attorneys at Korsinsky & Klein, LLP Provide Services to Nursing Home Patients
When making nursing care decisions for yourself or a loved one, it may make sense for you to appoint a professional to serve as guardian in the event that one becomes necessary. Talk to the Brooklyn guardianship attorneys at Korsinsky & Klein, LLP to learn more about legal guardianship services that provide financial representation without the potential conflicts found in cases of nursing home guardianship. Call 212-495-8133 or use our online contact form to reach our offices. We have locations in Brooklyn, New York, and Lakewood, New Jersey. We provided services in Manhattan, Long Island, and Westchester, New York.