Protecting Assets from Medical and Nursing Home Expenses and Nursing Home Neglect
The good news is that Americans are living longer. The bad news is that this increasing lifespan often means that at some point in the latter part of life, it often means extensive medical care, as well as becoming necessary for a senior to be admitted to a nursing home or require at-home healthcare.
Unfortunately, when these situations arise, it can mean the evisceration of the individual’s life savings, with the bulk of medical costs being paid out-of-pocket because the assets prohibit the person qualify for Medicaid assistance. At Legal Sweeney, each elder care lawyer has built a strong reputation for working diligently in making sure that our clients’ assets are protected from astronomical medical costs, leaving their family in financial stress.
One of the ways to protect these assets and ensure that your children will receive their inheritance is to gift these assets before the day comes that it is necessary to apply for Medicaid benefits. However, as an elder care lawyer may advise you, it is also important in protecting these assets that this gift is not just given outright but utilizes an irrevocable trust for the process.
When a person sets up an irrevocable trust, they no longer have any control over or considered the owner of the assets that are placed in the trust. This also means that they have no tax obligation for these assets for any interest, dividend, or other profit the assets may generate. Once the assets are placed in the irrevocable trust, the trust cannot be altered or canceled.
Since the individual who sets up the trust no longer owns the trust assets, those assets can’t be used as a source of income when the individual applies for Medicaid or other government assistance programs.
Future Protection of Assets
In addition to asset protection for the individual who sets up the trust, there can be specific instructions that will protect those same assets from certain circumstances for the beneficiary, including protection from creditors, lawsuit judgments, foreclosures, garnishment, and divorce. Your Danbury CT elder care lawyer can explain what provisions will need to be added to the trust instructions to achieve that additional protection.
Another consideration that may need to be addressed is if the beneficiary is disabled and receives government assistance. Any inheritance – such as would exist with the irrevocable trust – could affect the beneficiary’s eligibility to those benefits. However, your elder care lawyer can take the funds in the irrevocable trust and transfer them to a special needs trust that is structured specifically to protect beneficiaries from the loss of benefits.
The final benefit to setting up an irrevocable trust instead of just direct gifting it to the beneficiary is that tax benefits. Should the assets just be given directly to the beneficiary, they may be liable for tax obligations for ay appreciation of property in the trust. An irrevocable trust can be structured so the beneficiary avoids any capital gains tax for that appreciation.
For many families who have finally had to make the decision to put their loved one in a nursing home, it is sadly not uncommon to hear stories about nursing home abuse, as an elder care lawyer Danbury CT trusts knows all too well. However, when many people imagine nursing home abuse, they probably are picturing terrible stories of nursing home residents that are being tormented physically and psychologically or exploited financially by their nursing home staff. While these examples are very serious types of abuse, there is another, equally as serious, type of abuse that often goes unacknowledged: neglect.
With the millions of Americans who live in nursing homes throughout the country, neglect is often an understated problem that could cause a significant risk to the elderly. If you or a loved one has suffered from nursing home neglect, you may want to contact an elder care lawyer Danbury, CT can turn to. The professionals at Sweeney Legal, LLC have many years of experience fighting to give voices to nursing home abuse victims.
Nursing Home Elder Abuse
Nursing homes are designed to provide a safe space for the seniors and elderly. Many seniors are placed in nursing homes due to the inability to care for themselves mentally or physically, or because a family member cannot care for them. Sadly, the staff at many nursing homes abuse their residents—this abuse can take the form of physical, emotional, or psychological abuse.
If someone in your family is residing in a nursing home, take care to see how that person is being treated. By learning about the signs of elder abuse, you know exactly what to watch for and which steps you need to take to deal with this offense, including contacting a elder care lawyer serving Danbury, CT.
What is Considered Nursing Home Neglect?
While the legal definition of what is considered nursing home neglect varies by state, it is usually described as nursing home staff failing to ensure or provide:
- Appropriate housing that is protected from the weather and is safe
- Adequate food
- Bathing services
- Adequate clothing for the environment
- Timely medical care
- Supervision by medical providers and staff
If a nursing home does not provide their residents with basic necessities or allows their residents to deny basic necessities for themselves, it is illegal. An elder care lawyer Danbury, CT families need would be able to investigate the neglect and find the degree of illegality and how severe the violation would be by the nursing home staff.
What types of elder abuse are there?
Unfortunately, elder abuse can take on many forms. Among these are physical abuse, sexual abuse, and verbal abuse. Although it is common for the abuse to occur at the hands of the staff, it can also occur by other residents. While some abuse might be more obvious—such as physically hitting or kicking a resident—another abuse is false imprisonment of the residents, financial abuse of their personal funds, and neglecting the patient physically or mentally.
- False Imprisonment: this occurs when the nursing home staff do not allow a resident to leave certain areas within the building. This could be their bedroom, a wing within the facility, or even an outdoor space. Imprisonment can happen when a staff member takes away their means of mobility—like a wheelchair, walker, or crutches—or even threatens the resident with potential harm or nutritional deprivation.
- Financial abuse: a staff member or resident might steal personal items of value that belong to the resident, and even steal their private information so that they have access to stealing money from the victim’s bank account. Other forms of financial abuse might be forcing the resident to modify their deed or will, or even trumping up false fees to swindle money from the resident’s savings.
- Neglect: a staff member can neglect the resident to the point where the resident falls into serious potential or actual harm. For example, if a staff member does not bathe the resident routinely, the resident can get sick from lack of care. Or, if a resident needs help eating their food and a staff member does not assist with eating or drinking, the resident can quickly become malnourished, leading to sickness or even death.
What are the signs of elder abuse?
Because there are different types of elder abuse, the warning signs will be varied.
Signs of physical abuse:
- Rapid weight loss
- Malnutrition or dehydration
- Broken bones
Signs of verbal abuse:
- The resident showing fear around specific people
- The resident displaying visible depression or anger
- False dementia
Signs of financial abuse:
- Loss of personal property
- Sudden revisions to their deeds or wills
- Frequent withdrawals from their bank accounts
Signs of sexual abuse
- Bruising or bleeding in their genital area
- Bloodied undergarments
- Recent contraction of a sexually transmitted disease or virus
What can you do if you suspect elder abuse?
- Verify the resident’s story. This can be done by checking their facts and attempting to verify with other residents.
- Remove them from the nursing home in question. If you are worried about their safety, help them transition to a new nursing home as soon as possible.
- Inform the authorities. As soon as you see that elder abuse has occurred, inform the police or the district attorney.
- Hire an Attorney. When elder abuse has occurred, consider hiring an elder care lawyer in Danbury, CT who will fight relentlessly for victims.
Civil vs. Criminal Law
Nursing home neglect carries a mix of criminal and civil laws that apply to varied cases of neglect. If a nursing home staff were to unintentionally or accidentally miss a resident’s doctor’s appointment, it may not violate any law, however, if the neglect became more repetitive or serious, it could result in violations of civil or criminal laws. Once a nursing home staff is charged with civil or criminal charges, specific remedies for the neglected victim and punishment for the staff will begin.
There are many state and federal civil laws that are in effect for nursing homes, which a good Danbury, CT elder care lawyer will know. If a nursing home participates in Medicaid or Medicare, they must follow the regulations of the Nursing Home Reform Act. This law requires:
- Sufficient nursing staff
- Proper treatment and assistive devices
- Comprehensive care plans for patients
- Adequate patient supervision
- Maintaining complete and accurate clinical records
- Necessary services to effectively allow residents to carry out daily living activities
Should a nursing home not adhere to these regulations, they could receive civil or criminal charges and penalties, depending on the severity. Some examples of civil penalties include:
- Denial of Medicaid/Medicare payments
- Temporary management to oversee their facilities
- Transfer or removal of residents to different facilities
If a nursing home intentionally causes or allow a resident to be injured or their health to suffer that could result in death or great harm, they could face criminal charges, which could result in up to seven years in prison.
Make an Appointment
When you place a loved one in a nursing home facility, you are entrusting their lives into someone else’s care. It is important that nursing home staff are held accountable for their actions if they are neglecting their residents. If you believe your loved one has been a victim of nursing home neglect, you should contact an elder care lawyer Danbury, CT residents look to.
Legal Sweeney has experienced attorneys who have experience in nursing home law.
Our team will work to give a voice to your loved one and will fight to ensure the nursing home stops their behavior and is punished for any wrongdoing. Remember, the safety of your loved ones in nursing homes is of extreme importance to us. For more information regarding elder abuse and nursing home law, contact an elder care lawyer Danbury CT needs at Legal Sweeney today to schedule a consultation.