A recent New Jersey appeals court case demonstrates how important it is for families to come up with a long term care plan before an emergency happens. The case involves two brothers who got into a fight over whether to place their mother in a nursing home. Sadly, this dispute resulted in one brother filing a restraining order against the other.
R.G. was the primary caregiver for his parents and their Power of Attorney Agent. After R.G.’s mother became ill, R.G. wanted to place his mother in a nursing home. R.G.’s brother objected to this plan. R.G. had his mother admitted to a nursing home without his brother’s consent. R.G.’s brother sent angry and threatening texts and emails to R.G. as well as emails expressing his desire to find a way to care for their parents in their home. Eventually the men got into a physical altercation in which R.G.’s brother shoved R.G.
R.G. went to court to get a restraining order against his brother under the state’s Prevention of Domestic Violence Act. The trial judge ruled that R.G. had been harassed and assaulted and issued the restraining order. R.G.’s brother appealed, arguing that R.G. did not meet the definition of a victim of domestic violence.
In R.G. v. R.G. (N.J. Super. Ct., App. Div., No. A-0945-15T3, March 14, 2017), a New Jersey appeals court reversed the trial court, ruling that R.G.’s brother’s actions did not amount to domestic violence. According to the court, there was insufficient evidence that R.G.’s brother purposely acted to harass R.G., ruling that “a mere expression of anger between persons in a requisite relationship is not an act of harassment.”
This case demonstrates the need for looking into what long term care options are available and putting them into place before a crisis occurs. If the brothers had sat down with their parents before they needed care to explore options and determine their parents’ wishes, this costly and volatile dispute may have been avoided. Having a proactive approach and choosing an appropriate long term care plan can help avoid family conflicts like this one.
Top Questions to Ask When Exploring Long Term Care:
- What kind of services do I need?
- How will I pay for these services?
- How can I choose the best quality services?
Think of long term care as a menu of services. A person may need only one kind of service. Or, multiple services may be needed over the course of a person’s lifetime. Those who are not in immediate need of long term care may have the luxury of distributing or protecting their assets in advance. This way, when they create a long term care plan, they will quickly qualify for Medicaid benefits. Careful planning, whether in advance or in response to an unanticipated need for care will protect your estate, whether for the benefit of your spouse or your children.
Tips for Learning More About Long Term Care Options in Your Area:
- Call the Office of Aging and Adult Services in your county. They provide information on a wide variety of community‑based services. Examples are meals, home care, adult day care, transportation, housing, home repair, and legal services.
- Contact Hospital Discharge Planners.
- Ask doctors and other health care professionals such as Geriatric Care Managers.
- For a listing of Geriatric Care Managers in your county check out our website, www.slutskyelderlaw.com. Go to resources to choose the PA Elder Law Directory and Senior Resource Guide for your county.
- Ask at your local religious group.
- Contact an expert. An experienced Elder Law attorney can help you become organized and prepared. An Elder Law attorney can make sure that you understand what long term issues are coming and how to prepare for them. A reputable Elder Law attorney will be able to assist you with elder care resources.
About The Author
Named One of the Main Line’s Top Elder Law Attorneys
by Main Line Today
Robert M. Slutsky has practiced Elder Law since 1992 and was one of the area’s first elder law attorneys. Rob Slutsky advises clients on Medicaid and Asset Protection Planning, Guardianships, Wills, Trusts, Powers of Attorney, Estate Administration, Special Needs Planning and General Estate Planning. He has represented for profit and non-profit elder care providers and the Pennsylvania Department of Aging. Rob Slutsky has been the solicitor for the Montgomery County Office of Aging and Adult Services, the Area Agency on Aging for Montgomery County, for more than 15 years.