Towson estate planning and Elder Law attorney Richard Abraham explains some things to keep in mind when signing Nursing Home Admission Agreements.
Nursing homes require a written “Admissions Agreement.” This is a complex and binding contract typically signed before admission occurs. This Agreement details the nursing home and the resident’s obligations and rights. It is therefore important to understand what you are signing.
Before signing, the resident should read the entire Agreement and ask questions about it, the exhibits and attachments. You and a representative of the nursing home will both sign the Agreement. If you are not competent, your agent (under a Power of Attorney of court order) will sign on your behalf.
Maryland law mandates certain information be included in the Agreement. Some of these requirements are:
The basic monthly fee and what it covers
- The charges for late payment
- The costs of ancillary services such as laundry
- That monthly fees can be increased, but only after you are notified in writing at least 45 days in advance
- The policy if a resident’s funds are exhausted
- Whether the nursing home is a Medical Assistance (Medicaid) certified care provider which accepts payments from that program
- The policy on personal belongings and whether they are allowed in your room
- Instruction on how to file complaints if problems arise concerning your care
It is also important to understand who is financially responsible to pay for your care. Family members or friends are not required to do so, but can voluntarily agree to become responsible to pay for your care. This is not recommended because the nursing home will seek payment form them if you fail to pay.
Many contracts will also have sections covering injuries, accidents, and theft. Regardless of what the Agreement states, the nursing home cannot limit its liability if its negligence caused injuries to your person or theft or damage to your property.
Lastly, do not sign Agreements with contradictory clauses or that make arbitration mandatory to settle disagreements. If necessary, you should seek help from an elder law attorney who is familiar with Admission Agreements.