Reading the fine print when purchasing a home in a retirement community or a care community is intimidating. The typeface is tiny, you’ve got boxes to pack and movers to schedule and, well, you know the rest. What most people do, is hope for the best and sign. However, that can lead to trouble, advises Delco Times in the article “Planning Ahead: Moving to a care community? Read the agreement.”

If you don’t want to read the fine print or can’t make head or tails of what you are reading, one option is to ask your estate planning attorney for assistance. Without someone reading through and understanding the contract, you and your family may be in for some unpleasant surprises. Here are some things to consider.

What kind of a community are you moving into? If you are moving to a Continuing Care or Life Care Community, your documents will probably have provisions regarding health insurance, entry fees, deposits, a schedule of costs if you need additional services, fees for moving to a higher level of care and provisions for refunds.

When you enter an assisted living facility, you may find yourself signing documents regarding everything from laundry policies, pharmacy choices, financial disclosures and statements of your rights as a resident. Not every document you sign will be critical, but you should understand everything you sign.

If moving into a nursing home that accepts Medicaid, you and your family should speak with an elder law attorney who can make sure you have completed the Medicaid application correctly and are in full compliance with all of the requirements.

Almost all agreements will say that the applicant, or the person receiving services, is responsible for payment from their own assets.  If someone signs the document who is not the applicant/future resident, that person may become responsible for the costs, depending upon what role you have when you sign: are you a guarantor or indemnitor? That person typically agrees to pay after the applicant/resident’s funds are exhausted. The payments may have to come from their own funds. Sometimes the “responsible party” is simply the person who handles business matters on the applicant’s behalf. You’ll want to be sure that everyone understands what they are agreeing to so as to avoid any surprise.

If possible, the person who will receive services should be the one who signs any paperwork, but only after a thorough review from an experienced attorney.  The attorneys at Michael T. Huguelet, P.C. would be happy to review any contracts or other documents to provide you and your family members piece of mind when evaluating such a transaction.

Reference: Delco Times (Feb. 5, 20-19) “Planning Ahead: Moving to a care community? Read the agreement”

Moving to a Care Community? Check the Fine Print