What Is the Nursing Home Resident Trust Fund?

A nursing home resident trust fund is a trust that is held by a long-term care facility that helps residents manage their finances and pay for expenses within the nursing home, such as care provided, treatments at the in-house beauty shop or outings. Nursing home resident trust funds are often organized as single accounts that commingle the funds of all residents who have chosen to use it. However, each resident’s finances must be tracked separately, and the nursing home resident or the resident’s appointed financial representative must approve every transaction involving the money they have placed in the trust fund. If the resident leaves the home for any reason or dies, funds must be returned to the resident or the resident’s estate within 30 days.

Nursing Home Resident Trust Fund Explained

Nursing homes are required to offer resident trust funds, but they cannot require residents to deposit money into them. Nursing homes don’t have the legal right to manage their residents’ finances, and they must receive express permission from a patient before using these funds for anything. Social Security and pension checks, and gifts to residents may be deposited into these accounts.

Even if a patient chooses to use a trust fund, that patient still has the right to access their bank accounts and financial statements, and approve exactly how every penny placed in the trust fund gets used. The homes are also supposed to have protection for trust funds, such as a surety bond.

Nursing home resident trust funds have a noble goal: Manage money for residents who are mentally or physically incapacitated, or those who simply want the convenience of having someone else handle their finances while they’re in the home. However, these funds create situations where residents can be financially taken advantage of by unethical nursing home employees. Anyone who has authorized access to a nursing home resident trust fund – or can potentially obtain the information needed to gain unauthorized access to the fund – could steal from it.

Residents may not learn of the theft until significant damage has been done. The employee who acted immorally may never be caught unless another nursing home employee discovers the theft and turns them in, or a friend or relative of a nursing home resident suspects wrongdoing and files a formal complaint.