Winchester Gardens/ Springpoint: Keep a close eye on their bookkeeping

kmk

My MIL recently passed away.  She lived at Winchester Gardens for the past 5 years.  She loved it there. We loved having her there.  The facility's Maplewood business office prepared a statement of how much the estate would be getting back because a large portion of the entrance fee is refundable when the resident "leaves" the facility. 

The check arrived about a month later and I was on my way to the bank to deposit it into her estate account when I noticed that it is $17,000 less than what it should have been. No back-up paperwork was included etc.  Luckily - I did not deposit the check and I am able to pursue this further.  It seems this check was generated by the new-ish parent company, Springpoint. It appears to me that the two business offices are not in synch.

I am now going over every past monthly bill to determine if this is a one time (yet significant) error or if there have been other, less noticeable, problems with their bookkeeping. I am not a forensic accountant by any stretch, but I worry sloppy bookkeeping may be going unnoticed and cash-strapped seniors are being taken advantage of financially.  I hope not, but I will let you know what I find out.  (I have even contacted our lawyer about this.)


emmie

KMK, I am following this closely as my 94 year old mom is there in assisted living. By all means keep us posted.


jeffl

I had a very similar incident with them.  Hearing your story makes me wonder if it's intentional.

kmk said:

My MIL recently passed away.  She lived at Winchester Gardens for the past 5 years.  She loved it there. We loved having her there.  The facility's Maplewood business office prepared a statement of how much the estate would be getting back because a large portion of the entrance fee is refundable when the resident "leaves" the facility. 

The check arrived about a month later and I was on my way to the bank to deposit it into her estate account when I noticed that it is $17,000 less than what it should have been. No back-up paperwork was included etc.  Luckily - I did not deposit the check and I am able to pursue this further.  It seems this check was generated by the new-ish parent company, Springpoint. It appears to me that the two business offices are not in synch.

I am now going over every past monthly bill to determine if this is a one time (yet significant) error or if there have been other, less noticeable, problems with their bookkeeping. I am not a forensic accountant by any stretch, but I worry sloppy bookkeeping may be going unnoticed and cash-strapped seniors are being taken advantage of financially.  I hope not, but I will let you know what I find out.  (I have even contacted our lawyer about this.)

kmk

I hope that by bringing this out into "the public realm" we will keep it from happening to someone else.  

No one likes to openly talk about money or aging/medical expenses/death but I feel like the seniors are the most preyed upon. I am happy to advocate for them when I can... 


snowmom

Thank you for posting this.  My 89 yr old mother lives there [6 yrs] and we all love the place.  She is very happy there.

Please do keep us informed.


marcsiry

Better Call Saul. 

[This is very similar to a major plot point in the AMC show of the same name]


boomie

Cashing the check does not mean you no longer have a claim against them.


kmk

Yesterday, I got a call from the Executive Director at Winchester Gardens.  She kindly tried to explain to me the reason for the $17,000 shortfall. She pointed to fine print in the contract and an in-house transaction (made about 18 months ago) against our account that we we had no part in, no knowledge of, and were never told about.  

We agreed to disagree on the refund amount we are owed.

I do not know if it is intentional or just bad staffing, but it has been an ordeal trying to get the most basic information from either the Winchester Gardens or the Springpoint accounting departments.  There has been an overwhelming lack of transparency with the finances.

We purchased before Springpoint was the management company. Sounds like prospective residents might be better informed when they purchase these days.  The legal jargon in our contract had at least two "booby traps" in the fine print.  

I need to let the lawyers figure it out from this point.  (I also need to be convinced that I did not just witness "bait & switch" tactics with the entrance fee finances.)

I should be clear.  My MIL loved it there.  It is a beautiful place and the residents are happy and well-cared for. My disappointment is 100% with the business office and their practices.


emmie

My mom took the walk in her walker down to the finance office on Thursday to check on this. They said they would check on it and get back to her. I told her to get the statement in writing, so far nothing. She also loves it there, we shall see what kind of response she gets. Thanks for posting this thread, kmk. Will let you all know what happens here.


peteglider

I get a copy each month of my Dads continuing care bill.  (Not Winchester Gardens)  occasionally something to question.  Consider asking that a copy come to you each month if you have an elderly parent in one of these types of communities 


NizhoniGrrrl

We receive statements for MIL at our home address for WG so we can review each month and be sure the bills are paid, etc. It's important for folks in these places to have someone "one the outside" looking out for them.


emmie
NizhoniGrrrl said:

We receive statements for MIL at our home address for WG so we can review each month and be sure the bills are paid, etc. It's important for folks in these places to have someone "one the outside" looking out for them.

This is what I do too, but my mom wants to do some things herself, which is why she checked with the finance officer, I am following up on this with her.


jamie

I have an uncle there - they're able to email me the monthly bills.


addiemoose

can anyone give me a sense of how long it takes for them to sell an apartment after it has been emptied?


jeffl

It took them a year for me.  Might have been longer.  Depends on the demand, of course.  Maybe you'll be lucky and there will be a waiting list.

addiemoose said:

can anyone give me a sense of how long it takes for them to sell an apartment after it has been emptied?



lizziecat

My parents lived in a coop apartment in Queens.  When they died, I informed the management office of my intention to sell the apartment back to the coop (rules did not permit it to be sold on the open market).  I was sent a statement for the selling price less cleaning fees, repairs, etc.  It looked OK to me, and I was ready to sign the agreement, until I looked again, and discovered that I was being cheated of $16,000.  I called the office, and they instantly and profusely apologized, and sent me a revised statement and a check for the correct amount.

So, what I think happens in this kind of situation is that the people who work in the management office figure that the relatives are so consumed with grief at the deaths of their elderly relatives, and so busy with their own lives, and so eager to be done with the disposal of these apartments, that they won't pay that much attention to their financial statements.  Probably that happens often enough that the office employees manage to get a nice piece of change out of the deal.  And if the relatives find a financial discrepancy, apologize right away for a clerical or an arithmetical error, send a corrected statement and a certified check for the correct amount, and no one gets hurt.  It's disgusting.


Formerlyjerseyjack

Please describe the "booby traps" so others don't get caught in them.

kmk said:

.... The legal jargon in our contract had at least two "booby traps" in the fine print.  ...


Tom_Reingold

THIS IS NOT AN EXCUSE, but I think it's human nature to make errors in one's own favor. The evil is not in making the errors but not working hard enough to prevent them. It's difficult to show a pattern, but I think I heard that there is (or was) a class action lawsuit against verizon. It may be a matter of seeing what they can get away with, but there's a chance they are meticulous about getting money owed to them but less so at paying out where appropriate and at billing the right amounts. Again, it's not an excuse, but it seems to happen to everyone at some point.


newtonjohnson

My siblings and I are looking into Winchester Gardens independent living for my 93-year-old mother, focusing on their 90% refundable plan. Parts of the contract are vague (or booby trapped!) and my brother, a lawyer, wants to amend some language to make it unambiguous. For example, the contract states that "there will be no refund of the entrance fee upon transfer to the Health Services Center." WG rep told us that this just means that you don't get your refund until after you "leave" the entire facility, and they simultaneously tell us they never accept changes to the contract. There is also zero transparency about the "resale" process. All of this makes us dubious about Springpoint's integrity. It's very frustrating because the facility is beautiful, it gets good reviews and I live 2 blocks from WG. The WG contract contains the loopholes described in this article: http://www.nj.com/business/index.ssf/2017/02/bamboozled_holding_hostage_a_dead_seniors_money_-.html#incart_river_index_topics Can anyone reassure me that WG is on the up and up when it comes to processing refunds reasonably quickly and energetically marketing available units?




Formerlyjerseyjack

This might be a question for the N.J. Real Estate Commission or senior services. Have there been complaints about the facility? Judgments are on record. Are there any?


oots

you dont get your "deposit" back until the unit is vacated, then re-rented (sold-but you dont own it)  then after a 60 day period for the new person to stay.


we are currently waiting for a refund (unit just vacated for 2.5 weeks)




oots

if you can afford it-it is the nicest place out there.


jeffl

it took 18 months to get our deposit back.  And then they tried to give us less than we were due. 


newtonjohnson

Jeffl - were you successful in getting the full refund you were due?




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