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Nursing Homes are Petitioning for Guardianship to Collect Debts

Posted on in Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect

nursing home guardianship debts, Chicago nursing home neglect lawyerIt is a difficult decision to make to move a family member into a nursing home. After going through the steps to find the best facility to ensure the family member gets the care and attention needed, sometimes families may be shocked if they receive a petition from the nursing home for guardianship over their family member. The Illinois Nursing Home Care Act is written to protect the rights of the elderly in nursing homes and reduce the possibility of abuse and neglect, including management of their finances.

After a family member has moved into a nursing home, services begin to be billed to the spouse, family member, or guardian, sometimes reaching thousands of dollars each month. Those who question the cost above the original stated cost can quickly accumulate debt they did not account for. If they refuse to pay the overage until they see the statement of services or Medicaid has paid their portion, the amount owed to the nursing home continue to increase. This may lead the nursing home to file a petition for guardianship to collect debts for the resident.

It is the responsibility of the party filing the petition to provide proof that a guardianship is needed; after it has been clearly demonstrated the person in question is unable to make their own decisions.

Guardianship in Illinois is granted in one of four ways:

  • Guardianship of the Person – Giving the guardian legal rights to only make decisions about the personal or physical care of the person in question
  • Guardianship of the Estate – Giving the guardian legal rights to only make decisions about the financial affairs of the person in question
  • Limited Guardianship – Giving the guardian limited decision making rights listed in the guardianship court order
  • Plenary Guardianship – Giving the guardian legal rights to make any and all decisions about all personal and financial affairs of the person in question

A guardian is required to protect the best interests of the person listed in the guardianship court order. Researchers at the Brookdale Center for Healthy Aging at Hunter College randomly sampled 700 guardianship cases in Manhattan and found over 12 percent of the petitions were filed by nursing homes. In many of those cases, the guardianship petition was dropped after the debts were settled. The shock from the families was not so easily forgotten when they realized the nursing home did not have the best interest of their family member in mind.

Decisions regarding a family member’s care and finances should be left up to the spouse or family of the resident in the nursing home. Families depend on nursing homes to take care of their family member in their absence. Having the nursing home petition to take away the decision-making rights of those closest to the resident is a breach of trust. Our attorneys work hard to thoroughly investigate the petition and protect the rights of the elderly and their family.

If you have a family member in an Illinois elder care facility who has been a victim of neglect, contact a Chicago nursing home abuse attorney today. Call the law office of Hurley McKenna & Mertz, P.C. at 312-553-4900 for a free case evaluation.

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