Paying Mom’s bills – what you should know!

Over the last few weeks, a common issue has come up and after discussing the way DHS will deal with it, families repeatedly said “I wish someone would have told me this before we started this”.  So, this is me telling the world.

What is the issue?  Many times, an elderly person can no longer pay their bills due to dementia issues or just due to not being able to get out as much as they used to.  Therefore, the child starts “helping” pay the bills by just picking things up for the parent at the store, picking up the medications at the pharmacy, or just taking over the online payment and putting it on the child’s account.  Then once a month or so, the child will get one check from mom to reimburse for all those payments.

This sounds reasonable but creates significant problems.  Arkansas Medicaid (DHS) views any check from the parent to the child with great suspicion.  I have had cases where they have determined that the checks from the parent to the child was a gift and will impose a period of ineligibility causing significant harm by requiring someone to pay for the facility during the penalty.

Therefore, the way to fix this is to make sure that mom (or dad) pays for all of his or her expenses out of his account.  Today, with debit cards, that is easy to do.  Just keep the debit card for purchasing things for the elderly person.  So far, DHS has not questioned when a person’s check registry shows checks to the pharmacy, the grocery store or clothing store.  They see that the person bought what they needed.  However, what gets there attention is when the check goes from the elderly person directly to the family member. Therefore, avoid that if possible.  If you just have to have a check from the elderly person to the child, make the check for the exact amount of the receipt and keep the receipt with the check to show later.

Consider yourself warned!  If you have questions, please feel free to get with any of our staff and we can advise you how to avoid this situation.

About the Author, Todd Whatley:
Todd Whatley is the founding partner of the Elder Law Practice of Whatley and Elrod, and the Managing Attorney of the Springdale, Arkansas office, serving the legal needs of the elderly in Northwest Arkansas, including Springdale and Fayetteville.  Todd Whatley has been working in elder law field since 2000, and became Arkansas’ second certified Elder Law Attorney in 2006.  The Elder Law Practice of Whatley and Elrod is focused on the legal needs of the elderly and their families.  Todd Whatley is a regular speaker for Continuing Legal Education seminars teaching other attorneys about elder law.
About the Elder Law Practice of Whatley and Elrod:
The Elder Law Practice of Whatley and Elrod is Arkansas’ largest Elder Law practice, with four locations through the state of Arkansas, in Bryant, Fort Smith, Springdale, and Bella Vista.  Todd Whatley and Justin Elrod, the managing partners at the Elder Law Practice, are committed to serving the legal needs of the elderly in Arkansas.  Their services include estate planning, creating wills, trusts, avoiding probate, special needs trusts, Medicare, Medicaid, and more.  The Elder Law Practice of Whatley and Elrod also specializes in VA benefits, assisting Arkansas veterans in getting the benefits and assistance that they have earned during their time spent serving our country.

Filed under Elder Law · Tagged with

Comments are closed.