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A Long Term Care Mess (Part 2)

In last week’s post I started telling you about Mary’s call concerning her stepmom, June. Mary’s dad had recently died leaving her with the responsibility of caring for June. He also left June with ¼ of his estate per his will which she knew would not last very long, approximately 6 months.

As I related last week, under the law June is entitled to a minimum amount from Mary’s dad’s estate to satisfy her right to an elective share. In New Jersey that is 1/3 of the deceased spouse’s estate less what the surviving spouse already has. June had nothing so it made it easy in the sense that I knew the ¼ share in the will would not be enough.

Mary objected that her sisters would not understand why their dad’s will wouldn’t control here. I explained that if June does not assert her right to the full amount of the elective share then Medicaid will assess a penalty – a period of ineligibility for benefits – for any amount she does not receive to which she was entitled.

Mary asked me how we could accomplish this since June didn’t have a power of attorney. I explained that all this needed to be done through a guardianship action since no one has the ability to make financial or medical decisions for June until she is declared incompetent and someone is appointed her guardian. I also told her that we needed to act quickly because June was incurring long term care costs which she didn’t have an ability to pay for the moment. The meter so to speak was running on that bill. Once the guardian is appointed then the executor of Dad’s estate could distribute June’s share to the guardian who could then pay that bill. We also needed to gather the documentation needed for Medicaid which only the guardian would be able to access.

Next week I’ll tell you how it all turned out.