Should I sign a nursing home admissions agreement?

When an elderly person is admitted into a nursing home, they must sign a nursing home admissions agreement. If the agreement is not signed, then the elderly person cannot be admitted to the facility. The following reviews what a nursing home admissions agreement is, important parts of the agreement to be aware of, and why a nursing home agreement should always be reviewed by an attorney prior to being signed. Patricia Bloom-McDonald Attorney at Law can help you understand a nursing home admissions agreement and its legal bearing.

What is a nursing home admissions agreement?

A nursing home admissions agreement is a contract that is entered into between the nursing home, the resident to be admitted, and, when included in the contract, the ‘responsible party.’ The contract outlines the rights and privileges of the nursing home resident that the nursing home is to provide, as well as the responsibilities of the resident and responsible party, i.e., costs, fees, etc. While a nursing home admissions agreement should be signed, it should only be signed if certain criteria are met.

Who is a ‘responsible party?’

The responsible party is a third-party person who is responsible for the nursing home resident, and incurs liabilities from the nursing home resident in the event of death (i.e., unpaid nursing home bills). However, you should never sign a nursing home agreement as a responsible party; nursing homes are prohibited under federal law from requiring third parties to guarantee payment of nursing home expenses.

Instead, the nursing home resident should always sign on his or her own behalf. If signing on one’s own behalf is not possible due to mental or physical incapacitation, then you should sign as the nursing home resident’s agent (through a durable power of attorney document).

When reading through a nursing home admissions agreement, keep an eye out for the terms responsible party, financial agent, or guarantor – all may be ways of holding you personally liable for funds incurred. If these terms are found within the contract, do not sign it.

Other Important Components of a Nursing Home Admissions Agreement

It is also extremely important that you read and understand the nursing home admissions agreement in full prior to signing. Other important language to be aware of includes provisions discussing nursing home care and services. What’s more, you should also be aware of any arbitration provisions. An arbitration provision may stipulate that your right to civil action is forfeited in the event of a dispute; you should never sign a nursing home agreement waiving your legal rights to civil action.

How an Elder Law Attorney in Massachusetts Can Help

Before signing a nursing home admissions agreement in Massachusetts, make sure you have the document reviewed by a trusted attorney. Patricia Bloom-McDonald, Attorney-at-Law has the experience necessary to guide you through a nursing home admissions agreement and help you to make sure you’re making the right decision. To learn more, contact us at 781-713-4709 or 508-636-6097.