Sometimes you hear about a court case that has profound elder law significance, and we recently came across a 2011 decision that is quite instructive to those who are preparing to enter into nursing home agreements.
The case that we are referring to is the matter of Cook Willow Health Center v. Judy Andrien.
Ms. Andrien went about the task of having her mother admitted into Cook Willow Health Center, which is a nursing home. When she was filling out the paperwork she entered into an agreement whereby she assured the nursing home that she would take the necessary steps to make sure that the bills were paid either by Medicaid or by her mother.
Ultimately an outstanding balance accrued and sufficient payments were not forthcoming. Eventually the nursing home initiated legal action, citing the agreement that Ms. Andrien had entered into with regard to taking steps to arrange for payment.
Andrien countered by contending that by law a nursing home could not require a third-party to guarantee payment.
After examining the case thoroughly the court did not agree with Andrien’s point of view. While it is true that third-party guarantees cannot be required, the agreement that Andrien entered into was not mandatory as a condition of admittance.
The court’s interpretation of the law was that there is no implication that entering into a voluntary agreement is prohibited.
When you hear about a case like this one you can see why it is a good idea to have a licensed elder law attorney advise you before you sign any documents so that you are fully cognizant of your contractual responsibilities.
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