Livia’s House and Elder Care Planning

Posted on: Apr 19, 2016

The-Sopranos-LiviaIt’s easy in movies and on TV – a character needs assisted living, other characters are predictably upset, some drama follows, ten minutes later the character is in an assisted living home. From The Simpson’s to Happy Gilmore to Trainwreck and many shows in between, it’s pretty much always the same.
Missing, of course, is the planning, then the finances, then the ongoing expenses, then … What if, though, reality infringed on one of these shows?
Take, for example, one of the seminal shows of the new golden age of TV – perhaps the show that kicked it all off – The Sopranos.
It’s been awhile so you might not remember, but the single event that sets off most of the plot lines is Tony placing his mother, Livia, in a ‘nursing home’. The home most closely resembles a posh hotel, but moving Livia into it sets off a series of events that reverberate through the entire series.
Typically, Livia has an accident, Tony sees he can’t leave her alone, and within minutes she’s a beautiful assisted living facility. She’s unhappy, there’s a quick scene of Tony signing all the paperwork as Livia sits staring, unspeaking, at the administer. Once Livia is out of her house, the house becomes a key – probably vital – setting for numerous plot pieces. Ownership of it is a point of contention for Tony and his siblings, Tony lives there when he’s separated from Carmella; there are thefts, murders, conflicts, plots … innumerable scenes take place there. On several levels, the house is itself an important character.
But, here’s the thing: in the real world, the odds are overwhelming that Livia’s house would have been taken to fund her stay in the facility. The very, very, nice facility.
Sure, she gave the house, sort of, to Tony, but that’s a gift. And, gifts given within five years of going into assisted living are subject to being rescinded by state law if the resident has to use Medicaid to help pay for the care.
Livia’s house went to Tony as she was being signed into the facility. Given the Soprano’s family very understandable reluctance to reveal many financial details to strangers, and their – noted throughout the series – penchant for using government programs for maximum benefit to themselves, it’s a sure bet that Livia was relying on Medicaid. If not from the start, then surely after Tony cut her off right after . . . well you either remember or you can watch it. No spoilers here.
It’s hard to think of The Soprano’s without Livia’s house, but, in the real world, that’s precisely what would have happened. Unless, of course, sometime before the first episode Tony and Livia sat down with an Elder Law Attorney.

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