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Contracts in elder care facilities

The health care industry is not known for its transparency when it comes to cost. Elder care and assisted living facilities mimic hospitals in hiding, or at least not promoting, the fees and costs associated with using them. If you are considering one of these facilities for yourself or an elderly loved one, it might be a good idea to have an attorney review the contract before you sign.

Who's on the hook?

For people signing on behalf of a loved one, perhaps the most important consideration is who can end up responsible for paying the final tab. Signing as an agent or attorney in fact for a loved one means they are legally bound by the contract. If you are signing them in under your responsibility, they can come after you for any costs left over after a loved one's assets are gone. 

The fees should be known in advance

There is no reason these facilities can't tell you in advance what they will charge for various services. Most contracts are for a limited time, so the facilities don't have any cause to be vague about how much tings cost. If they are shy about telling you their fees, that's not a good sign. You need that information to make an informed decision about whether or not the facility is a good choice.

How will the contract end?

If the contract is for six months or a year, you might expect that care will be provided for the entire term. In truth, there are several reasons why the facility might choose to cut the contract short. It is important to learn about the ways a facility can get out of the contract, from non-payment of services to changes in the resident's needs. At the very least, this can give you an indication of when you might need to look for a different facility, prior to being forced to make that decision.

Having an experienced elder care attorney review these contracts is often a good investment. Never sign anything you don't understand or haven't had a chance to thoroughly review. The consequences can be unfortunate.

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