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Longtime Partners but Never Married (Part 4)

In my last 3 posts I have been telling you about the saga of Bill and Mary.  First Bill had a stroke.  Mary called concerned about how to care for him and still be able to afford to pay her bills.  Most of the assets, including the house, are in Bill’s name.  Should they spend it all on his care Medicaid could cover the care but that wouldn’t leave Mary with much.  I suggested marriage as a possible solution.

When Mary then had a stroke marriage no longer was a viable option.  Additionally, neither Bill nor Mary could serve as agent under the powers of attorney each had executed and neither had chosen an alternate.  Now we had a new problem.  Who would be able and willing to act on behalf of Bill and Mary to manage their finances and make important decisions concerning their care?

Nancy, a friend and neighbor, told me what she knew about their family history.  Mary had a cousin on the West Coast and Bill had a sibling with whom he had not spoken in 20 years.  Nancy said she was willing to help in any way she could.

I explained to Mary that we would need to file a legal action to request that a judge appoint a guardian of the person and property for Bill and Mary.  These would be 2 separate actions.  Nancy said she would be willing to serve in each case.  I told Nancy that Bill and Mary’s closest relatives would need to be informed of the guardianship and they would have an opportunity to request to be appointed guardian.  It would be the judge’s decision as to who would serve.  I also advised Nancy that the guardian would need to be bonded for the protection of Bill and Nancy.  I asked Nancy if she had a criminal record or any bankruptcy or other “black marks” that would lead a surety company to decline her application to be bonded.  She did not.

We then filed separate guardianship actions.  None of Bill or Mary’s relatives wished to serve and Nancy was appointed guardian for each.  We were able to keep them together in the same facility but in the time it took to get her appointed the nursing home bills had a run up to more than $60,000.  Mary would need Medicaid fairly quickly.  Bill, who had more assets could afford to private pay for awhile so we could focus on Mary first.

Next week I’ll tell you about the hurdles we needed to clear to get Medicaid for Mary.