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Friday, February 19, 2016

Procedure for Setting Up VA Fiduciary Account for Mom's Benefits

"It Really Was Quite Easy and Painless. "

Hello All,

Today we finally had the meeting with the rep from the VA to set up the Fiduciary Account for mom's Aid and Attendance Benefits. As promised I will tell you all how it went and what I found out about the process. 

The meeting was very informal. We met at the Adult Family Home where mom is now living. The rep needed to meet with my sister who was to become the fiduciary and my mom, in order to assess her abilities to handle her own money. I went along to see how the process worked and just in case there where any questions about her application since I was the one who filed the initial forms.

The rep was very nice. She asked my mom the usual questions when checking for dementia; Do you know what year it is? Do you know who is president? Do you know where you are? Have you been in the hospital in the past year? Mom was able to answer some of the questions but with further conversation and my mom's own admittance, it was obvious that she needed help and could not manage her money on her own. 

The rep then gathered required information. She needed copies of my mother's financial  statements, bank accounts and any other sources of funds. She needed verification of my mother's current monthly income - social security and any other sources besides the VA benefits. A list of her current medical expenses was also needed - medicare supplement premiums, and lists of medications and cost of care at the Adult Family Home. Then she asked for two references from my sister who would testify to my sisters trustworthiness. She also asked for my sisters approximate yearly income.

After gathering all the information she went over the process for setting up the account. My sister will receive a letter of approval from the VA after they complete a background and credit check on her.  She then needs to take the letter along with a direct deposit form which the rep gave her to the bank and have them set up the account. The account will be in my mother's name with my sister's name listed as fiduciary. She said any bank can be used. Once the account is set up the back payment that is owed to my mother will be deposited into the account and her regular monthly payments will start going into that account.  

Here are a few rules about how the account is to be handled:
  •  My sister will have to write checks from this account directly to the Adult Family Home, she cannot transfer the money into mom's other account and write one check, she will have to write two checks every month.
  • There is never to be any commingling of funds with any of my sisters own money. The money is to be used only to pay for mom's  care ( already knew that ).
  • My sister must keep records of all expenses in case they were to ever audit the account. Not hard since it's money in money out kind of situation.
  • We are to notify the VA if mom moves or goes on medicaid anytime in the future. 

Other than that it was pretty straight forward. The meeting lasted about 30 minutes and she wanted to see my mother's room before she left. We were glad to get this piece of the puzzle in place so that from here on out things should be straight forward. 

By the way, if someone has ever filed for bankruptcy they cannot be a fiduciary for another under the VA rules. 

Hope this helps you if you are facing this procedure in the future. It really was quite easy and painless. We are very grateful to have these benefits for mom as they allow us to have her in a nice quiet place with some wonderful people looking after her. Without the VA we would have had to apply for medicaid and then the uncertainty of where she would end up would have been an issue. We will have to apply for medicaid in the future if she out lives what she has left but at least this buys us some time (about 4 years) to see what our options are without having to make a hasty decision we may regret. 

If you are in a situation like ours, I suggest that you take the time to research medicaid facilities, as I will be doing, over the course of the next several months. Find out what facilities take medicaid and if there is a waiting list. I find being proactive makes things easier and less stressful for all. 

Until Next Time
Take Care All,
Ruth Anne

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