Assisted Living Facility Contracts and the Elderly

Aging Father with familySelecting an assisted living community for your loved one can be a difficult and sometimes intimidating process.

Assisted living contracts are, however, relatively straightforward as compared to other legal documents. They can still contain confusing legal jargon, or involve additional charges that aren’t completely apparent. You might be caught unprepared by fees or price increases that you would have been aware of if you had reviewed the Admission Agreement with an estate planning lawyer.

Assisted living communities have many different kinds of pricing structures. It’s important to understand yours.

  • Some communities will charge one fee for room and board, and a separate fee for care.
  • Other communities charge individually for each service.
  • Some communities rank the level of care that a resident needs on a scale, and costs are based on the degree of care the nursing staff determines is needed.

Some communities don’t charge a care fee at all. Instead they have an all-inclusive pricing model where a resident’s fees do not depend on the care needed. At that kind of community, a frail resident who requires a high level of care will pay the same fees as a resident who is mostly or even entirely independent.

You may also encounter a one-time entrance fee, a fee for laundry service, medical supplies, medication delivery, and other unforeseen charges in addition to the care fees that many communities charge. This is why it is important to review your Admission Agreement in detail before you sign it.

Assisted living communities customarily raise their prices at an approximate annual rate of 5 percent. Unless your contract clearly specifies a rent freeze or locked rate, fees will generally increase each time you renew your contract. Assisted living communities may also have a three year private pay requirement before they accept Long-Term Care Medicaid, or they may not accept Long-Term Care Medicaid as a source of payment.

A facility may only levy fees during the time period your property remains in the unit. Check your Admission Agreement to determine whether your loved ones will be charged fees after your death, and how much those fees might be. It must give written notice of its policies regarding contract termination and refunds in a timely manner pursuant to state law. If there is anything about the Admission Agreement for an assisted living facility that you don’t understand, it is a good idea to review it with an estate planning and elder law attorney.

To review your Admission Agreement or begin the estate planning process, please contact us at Aaron J. Goldberg, PLC.

 

 

“Used with permission 2016”

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Attorneys with Aaron J. Goldberg, PLC are members of the Vermont Bar Association and the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys.