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Clare
Clare, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 34263
Experience:  I have been a solicitor in High Street Practice since 1985 with a wide general experience.
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My elderly widowed aunt is bedridden, owns no property, has

Customer Question

My elderly widowed aunt is bedridden, owns no property, has no savings, and lives in a nursing home, where she was sent after discharge from hospital in January. Her only income is State pension and a small pension she receives from Teachers Pensions since her husband died in 2007. She has now been sent huge bills now for her care (about £ 3,600 to the end of April 2014), and we are most concerned that she has insufficient funds to pay for them. Can you please tell us, as we have Power of Attorney for her Health & Finances, what would happen in the following scenarios? 1) If she were to die tomorrow, would we "inherit" the unpaid bills for her care? 2) Is she not entitled to help with her nursing home fees (she is 86)?, and does not own property or have savings, and 3) Are we still required to pay these care bills, even though we were not consulted about her placement? We have been advised that she is to have just £23 a week to live on. How can we then provide outings in wheelchair taxis, new glasses, dentures, cosmetics, etc.??? We feel betrayed and let down, and would like some positive and accurate legal advice please.
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Clare replied 3 years ago.
Hi
Thank you for your question.
My name is Clare
I will do my best to help you but I need some further information first.
Have Social Services completed the assessment and taken on payment of the Nursing Home bills?
Clare
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi Clare, we have received today for the first time, (Friday May 16th), copies of letters, all addressed to our current home, which we have not previously seen, which were allegedly written on 28th January, February 25th and April 13th 2014 . These are all identified as "Assessment of Charge", then a separate document, "Agreement for the Payment of Care Home Fees" dated February 10th 2014, but this bears the signature of my aunt! This is, in my opinion, underhand, and obtained under false pretences, since my wife and I have Power of Attorney for Mrs Johnson's Financial & Medical affairs, yet we were not advised of the "meeting" to sign this document, and subsequently we were not there when it was signed, and it has, actually, been tampered with. The date has been altered from the 10th to the 12th of February 2014. We applied in February for Aunt Pauline to receive help with the costs of care, and were told that the first 3 weeks would be free anyway, since she was placed there with no advanced notice and without our consultation because the hospital needed her bed. As yet, we have received no word regarding a decision, and presumably no-one has been paying for her care, since the Service Provider, Agincare, has sent the bills to us for payment as if we were "Private Customers". As an 86-year-old widow, we believe her treatment in this matter has been appalling, and would consider her assessment to be inaccurate, based upon her circumstances.


 


Regards, XXXXX XXXXX

Expert:  Clare replied 3 years ago.
Hi
I am sorry but I am still unclear - have they completed an accurate Financial Assessment of her means and capital?
Clare
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi Clare, They have, but we have also applied for help with these costs, and our application has so far not been responded to. Her "Means and Capital" as you put it are modest, and she does not have any property or savings. What are you unclear about? She has been put in a nursing home without any consultation, asked to sign a form which we should have signed, and is now being sent invoices for payment which are more than she can afford. We want to know how she can obtain help with these bills, and what disciplinary action should be taken against Social Services for telling an old lady to sign to say she'll pay for something when she is not able to make that decision.

Expert:  Clare replied 3 years ago.
Hi
What I am unclear about is what the actual issue is.
If the fact is that you believe that your aunt would prefer to be cared for at home then clearly you need to appeal the matter.
If it is about how the fees are funded the the position is straightforward - if her savings are under £23,250 then she will receive assistance with her fees and if they are under £14, 250 they will be free - unless of course the Local authority decide that she has disposed of assets to avoid the fees
Like many things related to the Local Authority it can take time for these matters to be resolved - hence the bills.
However if your aunt meets the financial eligibility rules - and from what you say she does- then they will be paid -partly by her income and partly by the Local Authority - but yes her income will also be taken towards the bills and she will be left with Pocket Money only.
Despite the facts that you hold Power of Attorney if she still has mental capacity then your aunt can still sign the documentation.
I am still not certain that this addresses your main concern - if not could you clarify that for me please so that I can explain further
Clare
Clare and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

It would appear from what you have said that there is nothing more we can do; she has signed the form agreeing to pay the fees, even though it was done in a very unethical way. If she were to pass away tonight, we would, presumably "inherit" the unpaid bills as part of her "Estate"? If this is correct, we would have to negotiate as long a Term as possible to repay the money, since we are ourselves, in the process of arranging Bankruptcy proceedings. It is a very sad state of affairs, and a very stressful time for the whole family, but if that's the way the system works, then that's it. If you could explain the position regarding the transfer of liability for these debts, I would be grateful. I have been very pleased to receive your prompt and informative comments so far, and look forward to reading your considered answer to my question.


 


Kind regards,


 


Steve Goodwin

Expert:  Clare replied 3 years ago.
Hi Steve
Has your Aunt ever gifted you any of her assets in the past?
Clare
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

No, none. They did own a flat in Poole when her husband was still with us, but they sold that in 1990 and rented privately, and the profit from the sale was put into a savings account and slowly eroded away. When her husband passed away in 2007, I was appointed Executor of his Will, and had to sort out his Estate. There were savings, but they were well below the threshold you mentioned earlier, and have since been spent on furnishing her flat, very expensive "Clinique" cosmetics, and day-to-day care and days out, etc. Apart from my wife and I having Power Of Attorney, my wife also has a joint bank account with her aunt, but this was because Pauline didn't know how to write a cheque when her husband died, and made bill payment easier. Although Peter was a headmaster, and she was a housewife who never worked, they spent money like water, and were always borrowing money from us whenever they could; all a bit sad and depressing really.


 


Steve

Expert:  Clare replied 3 years ago.
Hi
Then the local Authority will pay the balance between her income and the bills - and you will certainly not be liable for them in any way
Clare