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Death of Alz life partner legal nightmare in Florida
snapper
Posted: Thursday, January 5, 2012 12:04 PM
Joined: 1/5/2012
Posts: 10


Does anyone have experience with dealing with your state of residence putting a claim on your deceased Alz loved one's estate for NH medicaid repayment? This is creating a nightmare for me as legal heir specified in her legal will. After years of being primary caregiver, at our home, she was in various NHs care for about nine months.She died at home with hospice care a few months ago. I was sitting right next to her bed when she passed.

 I'm facing homelessness because the State of Florida exempts only legal spouses or blood lineage relatives from seizing the estate assest to pay back Alz NH medicaid costs. Already consulted attorneys. We were life partners for 34 years.

Does anyone have experience with this or know anyone this has happened to?


JAB
Posted: Thursday, January 5, 2012 12:08 PM
Joined: 11/30/2011
Posts: 740


I don't.  But there's a member who does, and hopefully, she will contact you.

 

This is just so very wrong...


snapper
Posted: Thursday, January 5, 2012 12:24 PM
Joined: 1/5/2012
Posts: 10


JAB - thanks for the sympathy. It is wrong and I am frightened nearly out of my wits. I'm still in the throes of the grief process and do not feel up to the fight. Haven't found any help or support in the community - Pensacola. Go to grief group and alz family support group, but this stumps even my attorney. As you can image, after her death, I find myself emotionally, mentally, and physically exhausted from her full time care. Not complaining about caring for her, I made the conscious choice. Did not expect to have the state of florida attack so rapaciously. Unrelenting.

And I do not understand the reasoning behind going after the poorest of the poor. It is very difficult to qualify for nursing home medicaid. What good will it do to put me out on the street at 62yo?


JAB
Posted: Thursday, January 5, 2012 12:51 PM
Joined: 11/30/2011
Posts: 740


Oh, my heart just aches for you.  I've emailed the person I hope can help ... Meantime, have you tried contacting your local and state representatives, congressmen and senators?  Sometimes they can straighten out messes that no one else can.
 

And what about contacting sponsors/proponents of the National Alzheimer's Project Act and members of the Advisory Council?

http://www.kintera.org/site/pp.asp?c=mmKXLbP8E&b=5829219

http://aspe.hhs.gov/daltcp/napa/#Council

You saved the Government a ton of money by caring for your partner at home.  And that aspect of this situation doesn't seem to be taken into account at all ... and it's something that impacts taxpayers and caregivers in every state.


lurk
Posted: Thursday, January 5, 2012 4:53 PM
Joined: 12/3/2011
Posts: 652


I think the insult added to injury is that they don't even care.  Just get every drop of money they can.  I'm so sorry.  It is definitely so wrong.  I hope you can find someone to help.
Cheryle Gardiner
Posted: Thursday, January 5, 2012 5:16 PM
Joined: 11/30/2011
Posts: 529


snapper, I am so sorry this has happened. It is one of the reasons I will NEVER return to Florida (I'm a second-generation Floridian) to live. 

I don't want to get political on here, but I strongly suggest you contact US Senator Bill Nelson's office for assistance. Sen. Nelson is perhaps the only sympathetic ear you will find in what used to be a fairly progressive state.

I am assuming (I hope correctly) that yours was a same-gender relationship. If so, I would immediately contact Lambda Legal at http://www.lambdalegal.org/help and see if they can provide legal assistance for you.

I pray that JAB's contact can help you with some advice, but I certainly wouldn't waste any time at all getting in touch with Sen. Nelson and Lambda, if appropriate. I find this to be so disgusting and unconscionable of Florida to engage in this kind of B.S

You may be able to tell that I'm a little angry. Years ago, when I worked for hospice in the early days of the AIDS epidemic, the stories we encountered of family members throwing life-long partners out in the street after their LO died were horrific. All because the family didn't "approve" of the relationship. Your post just brought back all of that righteous anger I felt then; I guess I haven't mellowed - and pray that I never do when it comes to injustice.

Please let us know how you're doing and what you find out.
AlphaLeah
Posted: Thursday, January 5, 2012 5:21 PM
Snapper - 

It is horrible that you are facing this situation. 

I created a thread with resources specifically for LGBT caregivers entitled "Resources for Lesbian and Gay Elders and/or Caregivers for Same-Sex Partners and Spouses". 

I hope you will find some help that you need. 

Leah
skericheri
Posted: Friday, January 6, 2012 6:55 AM
Joined: 12/10/2011
Posts: 287


Snapper---What is happening to you is appalling...Especially if you take into account that your caregiving probably postponed placement and actually saved the state of Florida money.

 

In my opinion states that have such insensitive recovery policies should be targeted by the gay and lesbian community in their efforts to promote the legalization of same sex marriage.

 

 


snapper
Posted: Friday, January 6, 2012 7:44 AM
Joined: 1/5/2012
Posts: 10


JAB - thanks for the resource suggestions. This message board has been a lifeline for me for years. My old screen name was "pompano2", as I recall. Didn't seem to work when I tried to log onto this new system, so I created new account.

 

I will contact the various resources suggested here. What is so very scary is how quickly the AHCA for State of Florida put a lien on the estate - within a week or two of filing probate, through this private contractor, ACS Recovery. And a state attorney is working for this private company as the pitbull to ruthlessly go after "their" money. If I had been informed that nursing home medicaid is a loan, rather than public help for the care of my late stage alz loved one, I would have avoided placement somehow.

 

Although my particular case is same-gender, the same discriminatory, unjust laws apply to unmarried opposite-gender couples, or if a friend provides the primary care. This has created a system that funnels the elderly into the nursing industry clutches by restricting just who can provide care and be exempt from the federal and state governments putting the 1993 Federal Budget Reconciliation Act into gear. I had to learn all this within the past month.

 

As states scramble for money in this economic mess we all struggle through, ruthlessness is the word of the day.  And what is to prevent the federal government from removing the exemptions?

 

And what really haunts my mind is that I brought her home because Someone in the NH punched out her front teeth. She was abused and neglected in the NHs, I filed elder abuse and neglect complaints with State of Florida AHCA to no avail.

 

After seven years of full time primary caregiving for my Alz loved one, I now believe that a new model for Alz care needs to be developed and implemented based on keeping the loved one at home and in the community, not locked in a dementia unit holding pen.

 

I am frightened for my own future and furious at what happened to my Alz loved one.

 

 

 

 

 


jfkoc
Posted: Friday, January 6, 2012 2:49 PM
Joined: 12/4/2011
Posts: 17269


So sorry you have run into this. I hope every one who reads your post will realize that regardless of the relationaship we have with our loved ones when there is a death we are affected by laws both state and national.

 

Looks like you have gotten some great leads. Please let us know how things are going. You will undoubtedly be able to help others with your info.


cathyjm
Posted: Friday, January 6, 2012 10:57 PM
Joined: 12/2/2011
Posts: 160


I thought that Florida did exempt the home (if owned jointly) from Medicaid recovery.  http://www.aboutfloridalaw.com/2009/09/14/medicaid-recovery-against-florida-homestead/  

and

http://www.floridamedicaid.com/rules/estaterecovery.htm



My life partner died a little over a week ago here in Georgia, and though we owned the home as joint tenants with right of survivorship, I'm expecting to have to buy her half of it -- not because of NH care but because of in-home caregivers provided by a Medicaid-funded program. I've viewed it as an interest-free loan that at least enabled us to stay together. (Sigh....)

The staff associated with the in-home program have always told me that the state doesn't want to force a sale and will let me pay off the money gradually, so we'll see how this plays out.

In Georgia, the Medicaid recovery rules do say that they won't take a home if it would throw the remaining household members into such poverty that they'd qualify for other assistance but I'm not sure where they draw the line.

I can see how this would be a terrible shock if you hadn't had time to sort of grieve about it, be angry and frustrated, and then come to terms with it earlier. Whoever approved the Medicaid NH application should have explained to you at least the basics of Medicaid recovery. Shame on them if they didn't!

Don't panic. You've gotten good advice about actions to take and help to secure. There will no doubt be class action lawsuits about this, but probably not in time to help some of us now. There may be an exemption, though, that will apply to you.

Keep in mind that if you're in poverty now, you probably qualify for free legal assistance with this. The lawyer assigned to my case when I was first grappling with options happened to be gay and very sympathetic and helpful. As it turned out, the personal services contract that could have brought my partner's equity below the Georgia estate minimum for Medicaid recovery was ready too late for my partner to sign it -- it just upset her no matter who explained it. And it's obviously too late for this kind of solution for you -- but perhaps there's an exemption that will apply.

This document is kind of old so I'm not sure it's still current, but it does say that heirs can't be impoverished to the point of not having enough for food etc.
http://www.willtrust.com/medicaid.php#MedicaidEstateRecovery 

I hope this will turn out well for you!


snapper
Posted: Saturday, January 7, 2012 11:07 AM
Joined: 1/5/2012
Posts: 10


cathyjm - too late about the don't panic. I am nearly frozen with fear.

 

State of Florida exempts ONLY "spouse", son, daughter, and any other blood kin. "Heir" in Florida can only be blood kin. Period.

 

State of Florida is going after her share. I have absolutely no indication that the state is concerned about my welfare.

 

I didn't know this could happen, and am completely unprepared.

One happy little note:

The day before she died at home, I looked into her eyes, said her name, and said very sincerely, "I love you." Astoundingly, she looked right back into my eyes and said "I love you." and said my name. She had been unable to speak for some time and did not know who I was for the past couple of years. That one miracle neutralizes all the negatives. So for all you primary caregivers out there: keep in mind that your loved one is still in there, right to the end. Don't assume that because so much function seems to be gone, that your loved one isn't able to keep track and understand. Compassionate care, always.

 

Thank you all for your support. This helps. The abyss seems to have found me. I don't know how to climb out.

 


cathyjm
Posted: Saturday, January 7, 2012 2:46 PM
Joined: 12/2/2011
Posts: 160


snapper wrote:

cathyjm - too late about the don't panic. I am nearly frozen with fear.

 

State of Florida exempts ONLY "spouse", son, daughter, and any other blood kin. "Heir" in Florida can only be blood kin. Period.

 

State of Florida is going after her share. I have absolutely no indication that the state is concerned about my welfare.

 

I think the lien on the estate is inevitable, so the ball is in your court (or your lawyer's court) to tell Medicaid recovery to concern itself with your welfare. You're right, the staff there won't automatically try to find out if anyone living in the house would be impoverished (to the extent that you'd qualify for aid yourself) by losing half the equity or half the savings etc. 

You have to be assertive at this point -- or better yet, get a calm but assertive lawyer -- and let the state know the full situation.

Even tho only certain blood relatives automatically gain exemption, this doesn't mean that other exemptions aren't possible -- they're just not automatic. That's where the ball is in your lawyer's court.

No way to know for sure how it will turn out, but use the love between your partner and yourself to buoy yourself up through this anxiety. Use some of the techniques from Debtors Anonymous (where many members are hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt and trying to dig out from a big hole) -- e.g. "I'm OK today. Today I have food to eat and a roof over my head."

I have been figuring that there are subsidized apartments, homes where roommates are wanted, housesitting opportunities -- I'll be OK one way or another. My friends and family won't let me starve even tho my pride might suffer a bit. I do have a lot of advantages -- freelance work waiting for me, for one thing -- that's big. But we have gotten through caregiving and we can create a good future. That doesn't depend on what someone else does even if it's a big govt. agency.

JAB
Posted: Saturday, January 7, 2012 3:01 PM
Joined: 11/30/2011
Posts: 740


This is a long shot ... but ... I wonder if your local chapter of the Alz Assoc might have helpful ideas, or maybe contacts for qualified pro bono attorneys.


http://www.alz.org/apps/findus.asp

 

Or if your Area Agency on Aging might be able to help:


http://www.aoa.gov/AoARoot/AoA_Programs/OAA/How_To_Find/Agencies/find_agencies.aspx

 

Or something like NACA:


https://www.naca.com/nacaWeb/index_main.aspx


cathyjm
Posted: Saturday, January 7, 2012 3:03 PM
Joined: 12/2/2011
Posts: 160


One crucial question for a home in Florida: is it considered a Homestead under the Florida Constitution, or not? If it is, I don't think you have anything to worry about when it comes to your home -- just money, savings, car, etc. This is an important protection that most states don't provide.

I'm not sure how you find this out if you're not sure whether or not your home is a Homestead, but that would be something to pursue first with a lawyer.


I'd try the lawyer who did the original real estate transaction first (or any more recent changes of the deed). He or she should know.


cathyjm
Posted: Saturday, January 7, 2012 4:48 PM
Joined: 12/2/2011
Posts: 160


Re. qualifying for an exemption re. poverty -- would losing half the estate mean you'd qualify for SSI? Or QMB (Qualified Medicare Beneficiary)? Food stamps? Subsidized housing?

You can probably find the answers to these questions online. It would be a good idea to have at least a rough summary of your financial situation (income and savings vs. expenses) to take to the lawyer.

Even if you're not a blood relative, the government doesn't want to take with one hand and give with the other -- i.e. claim half the estate and then pay it back out again in benefits because they did so.

But you have to provide the facts.   


I had one other idea. If when you applied for NH Medicaid for your partner, you never signed a form that said you understood Medicaid recovery would claim the expenses after she died -- that might be important for your lawyer to know. Look for your copy of the papers you signed, to see if it's in there anywhere. (I definitely did sign a paper that I'd been told about Medicaid recovery, so I'm sure they're supposed to make this clear.)


Hope this helps.


cathyjm
Posted: Tuesday, January 10, 2012 8:21 PM
Joined: 12/2/2011
Posts: 160


Snapper, keep us posted on how you're doing in this rough time!

Even tho it's too late, most likely, for us to avoid Medicaid recovery -- it's important to let new caregivers know NOT to delay a day in figuring out the best legal and financial solution for the future. It's very easy to put it off and say that the current medical issues and caregiving challenges are way more important.
skericheri
Posted: Wednesday, January 11, 2012 8:56 AM
Joined: 12/10/2011
Posts: 287


Snapper---Please continue posting updates on this thread.  You have been in my thoughts and  hoping that in the long run all ends well.

Heidi Liane'
Posted: Wednesday, January 11, 2012 2:10 PM
Joined: 12/20/2011
Posts: 66


Snapper I live in NE Fla also contact stephens  wises ofice tooand soime lwyersw who can tlak to yuo we  used edie fars great they can tell you over ther phone wether they canhelp you or not 904-396-5555 ok please call someone.  I also fuond out when my LO dies I can keep thehouse since I am married to him for over 30 years but they did away with  survivors social secuiry ty unles yuohave akid living at home and pets donot count mean mean mean i wishI cuold kick some butt too but huby doesnot want tomove uotof Fla this is so screwed up.

 

I agree with others aply for medicaid and medicare too ok my friend the sooner thebetter too please.

 

try to calm downnad gethelp like they suggested other paces too. it is a political year tooand tellthemif theyare up forreaelection if they help yuo yuo wil vote forthem toonad then alsocontact nthe paper the  Tv stations toolet them know whatis ging on if yuohave anionvegsation reportr on on of the statiopns please call raise a stinkl for yuo own good this is wrong.

 

Is yourname also on the deed too  nad any paperwork too saying you also own thehouse too bets of luck.I know some people onthe board too who went throughthings like this hopefully they canhelp- yuo out too 

{{{{{  Cyber Hugs and prayers coming yur way form Ne FLA}}}


cathyjm
Posted: Thursday, January 19, 2012 5:58 PM
Joined: 12/2/2011
Posts: 160


So far, so good here for me. Though I read online that in Georgia, Medicaid Recovery can take all the money even from POD bank accounts (even the burial account) after death, I seem to have beat them to it. The death certificates finally came today, and the bank honored the POD arrangement. Medicaid Recovery may argue with me about it later, but at least I have it for now, over which to argue later -- and there shouldn't be any argument over paying the cremation and memorial expenses from this money.

Long term prospects look mixed. Real estate lawyer will file an affidavit with the clerk of court, along with the death certificate, that the real estate now belongs solely to me. GA legislature gives MR the right to ignore this, however. We shall see. The lawyer thought that MR might be willing to settle the matter out of court for less than the total, which is a new thought but which makes sense given the cost of taking me to court.

For now, I seem to have given up worrying about it. Mainly I want to use it as an incentive to prosper so that it's not an issue. I thought for a while about which way to go. Theoretically I could just decide to "be poor" and probably qualify for a hardship waiver. Spend all the funds I have on the most essential repairs to the buildings here and then sign up for food stamps, QMB or SSI. (Might be a necessary interim measure if MR rushes me.)

Better in the long run, though, to get more creative about prospering -- go the other direction and earn a good living -- enough to cover repairs, MR, giving my art career whatever boosts it needs, and having plenty to help family and church and strangers. (Details to be worked out, LOL.) 


Cheryle Gardiner
Posted: Thursday, January 19, 2012 6:24 PM
Joined: 11/30/2011
Posts: 529


Not worrying about things you can't change is a healthy attitude. (Maybe some day I'll learn how to do that!  )

Hopefully, it will all turn out well for you, Cathy. I do wish we'd hear from Snapper!
skericheri
Posted: Thursday, January 19, 2012 7:21 PM
Joined: 12/10/2011
Posts: 287


Cathy---Thanks for your update.  Your attitude is enviable.

 

Snapper---If you're out there, please post an update.  We're concerned.



lurk
Posted: Thursday, January 19, 2012 7:54 PM
Joined: 12/3/2011
Posts: 652


Yaaay, Cathy.  Way to go!
JAB
Posted: Friday, January 20, 2012 4:52 PM
Joined: 11/30/2011
Posts: 740


Cathy, you are a remarkable woman.  I like Plan B. 

 

 Thanks so much for continuing to post.


surfergirl
Posted: Friday, October 31, 2014 4:56 PM
Joined: 1/23/2012
Posts: 781


Hi Snapper,

 

I am a straight women who loves everyone, this is why same sex mariage ( sp)

must be legalized, I   am a Floridian , we have isis and ebola nipping at our heels, and our Atourney General worries about who commits to whom. Go figure. I 've been wanting to say this for a while, so at least it's off my chest.

 

hoping you get some resolution,in th meantime hugs to you

 

Surfergirl


joto815
Posted: Sunday, January 31, 2016 12:05 AM
Joined: 5/15/2015
Posts: 13


Cheryle Gardiner wrote:

Years ago, when I worked for hospice in the early days of the AIDS epidemic, the stories we encountered of family members throwing life-long partners out in the street after their LO died were horrific.

My partner and I moved back from Europe to the U.S. in 1990 after he became symptomatic with AIDS dementia. I was barred from the hospital the first time he got sick, the family had hospice move in and though he wasn't actually dying, the family and his doctor decided his life was not worth trying to extend, so my friends told me they offed him in just a couple days with overdose after overdose. His mother said they didn't want the bother or the expense of a new drug called AZT.
 
After he died, the family came in and stole everything I/we/he (there was no legal "we") owned while I was at work, figuring I would be too embarrassed to press charges. And I was. Today, I have younger-onset familial ALZ. I have girded myself at no small expense with every legal document available and the best attorney in town in the hopes that I will not end up homeless and forgotten. I thought I had put the nightmare behind me, but here it is again, or so it seems. So I am here to learn from all of you and maybe offer a few tips on how it is possible for a caregiver to pick up and move on when it's over. It ain't easy, but the LGBT community is amazingly resilient.

Mimi S.
Posted: Monday, February 1, 2016 9:29 AM
Joined: 11/29/2011
Posts: 7036


Oh Joto,

This post helps us understand better what you are dealing with.

Legally things are improving and it seems there is more acceptance from family. What is your experience with your birth family?

I have written to you further on another board.