When meeting with a Lawyer, Getting Momma’s Stuff Together is typically half of the battle. Because of the amount of work it entails, it’s often the hardest part of the battle.
When a parent goes to a Nursing Home, it’s even worse because you (the adult child) usually don’t know what they have or where it’s at. You may have lived out of state or out of town for years. Even if you live in the same town, you have your own family, your own job, and your own life. You probably have never had the time or interest to delve deeply into your parent’s finances.
In one common situation, one parent is deceased and the other has Alzheimer’s and is being admitted to a Nursing Home at the end of the week. The adult child who is in charge of getting stuff together must act quickly! The Nursing Home or your attorney may be requesting specific information required for the Medicaid application process.
It’s Not as Simple as Just Filling Out the Medicaid Application
As you will discover, this process is much more involved than just “one simple Medicaid application form”. If only it were that easy! The Medicaid application form requires a substantial amount of information. To add to the confusion, it’s up to you to get stuff together! Neither the preparing attorney nor the Nursing Home know anything about your parent or what they may have. In the scenario presented, they can’t ask your surviving parent because they have Alzheimer’s. By process of elimination, this leaves you to hurriedly gather the stuff needed for the attorney to do their part.
You begin to look at their home, but don’t know where Mom or Dad kept their important papers. Your search leads you to a bank lock box. There you discover that your name is not on the signature card for the lock box. Only Dad’s name (now deceased) and Mom’s name (now has Alzheimer’s) are on the card. Tensely, you explain the gravity of the situation to the bank. You only need the information for your Mom’s benefit because she is being admitted to the Nursing Home on Friday. Exasperated, you beg them to watch you as you search the box – as long as you can! After all of this begging and pleading, the bank still denies you access. You need a Court Order.
Not to be deterred, you continue look and find some of the stuff needed. But, it comes out, you are still missing much of the needed documentation. The application requires several months bank statements of each of their existing bank and brokerage accounts. You hurry back to the bank and broker, but still do not have a power of attorney authorizing you to act on behalf of your parents. You are quickly ushered out empty-handed.
The button below will give you our in-house checklist to determine what stuff you need. You can keep it in a handy file, for the moment’s need.
Note to Seniors regarding Power of Attorney
Attention Parents: If you are reading this and still have capacity, it’s a great idea to broach this topic at your next family gathering. You should choose the person that you want to act on your behalf if you lose capacity in the future. Once you do lose capacity, then it’s too late to sign documents and too late to choose who you want acting on your behalf. Capacity is a slippery slope and can go away quickly – don’t take this for granted. If you don’t choose someone to act on your behalf, you forfeit the right to choose. Thereby you will force your kids to have to go to Court to get a guardianship. Without Court Order, they will not be able to do your business when you can no longer act on your own behalf.
Start Gathering and Organizing Stuff Now
If I am talking to you, the Senior, this is a great time to start making it simple for your kids to help you when you need the help. If you are one of the kids reading this and your parent still has capacity, show this blog article to them and ask them to help you get things organized. I have mentioned a few things in this article, but here is a short list of things to do:
Your parent should visit their Elder Law or Estate Planning Attorney to get a Power of Attorney, Health Care Documents and other necessary estate planning documents.
They should have the bank to add some trusted person to the signature care of their safety deposit box.
Start organizing all financial records at home and keep them in a designated place where someone (hopefully the person you named in your power of attorney) can find them.
Your parent should meet with their financial advisor to make sure that assets are safely invested in an account where they can be accessed quickly by the person they have named as their power of attorney should the need arise.
Have a family meeting where these things are discussed and made clear to all immediate family members.
There are many items to gather and it’s a great idea to start the process early. To get a copy of the Verification Checklist that we use in our office and give to family member / clients when they start the search for documents, click on the link above. We hope these tips help and we hope you start the search early.
If you are a Senior who needs to get “your ducks in a row” and wonders what to do next, read our blog article, “If You Haven’t Done Your Estate Planning, Here’s Your Sign!” – then call us (501) 843-9014 to set a time for a Free Initial Consultation. The time to act is now, while you can!
If you are one of the adult children whose parent is in a Nursing Home now or is going there soon, read our blog article, “How to Get Medicaid to Pay for Momma’s Nursing Home Care ” – then call us (501) 843-9014 to set a time for a Free Initial Consultation. Don’t spend ALL of Momma’s money on her care! With proper planning, some of her money can be saved!