Would this be unethical???

  1. I haven't posted much the past few months. It seems our family has had a bunch of downs with few ups. First I would like to say that you are all great and I respect your opinion so I have a situation to deal with and want to know what you would do. I had a resident in my facility I'll call Mary. She had been on my unit since I became the charge nurse 5+ years ago. We instantly became more than just nurse/patient relationship. We grew to love each other dearly and even though it was against facility policy, we exchanged gifts privately for the various holidays. We shared private times together that I will always cherish. Mary died in September, and as much as it hurt me to loose her, I was happy that her pain was ended and knew she was in a far better place. Last week I received that paperwork from her attorney, I have been named in her will to receive an inheritance. Most of the folks that live where I work are private pay and very wealthy, I do not know what Mary's financial status was, never mattered to me. Is it ethical for me to accept this from her. I was named to get my portion before her neices that are her only surviving relatives, they never came to see her and weren't very close to her. I feel very weird about all of this. I haven't even contacted her attorney because I'm not sure what to do. I won't lie and say I couln't use the money but my love for her was never about money, it was because we just loved each other. When I got the notification I cried because I knew in my heart that for her to have done this, she really did understand how much she meant to me. Should I accept this or turn it down. Since she was one of my patients, would this be unethical to accept this? Has this happened to anyone else here or what would you do if it did happen to you? I would really appreciate hearing your opinions.
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  2. 5 Comments

  3. by   NRSKarenRN
    Duckie:

    You knew nothing about the arrangment. If you had no discussion of finances you have nothing to worry about. Check your employment contract with the facility. If it says nothing about receiving gifts from patients, I would freely accept the inheretence. You may find that you have received a token gift....or a windfall. If the family contests the will, they may say you had undue influence. On the otherhand, she may have clearly indicated to her lawyers her reason.

    There is no harm in contacting the lawyer. You can always refuse the inheritence or donate it. If it becomes a public matter, might need legal advice.

    In the past , I have received 2 suprise letters in the mail after patients died. One from " Uncle Charley" a widower living alone who's neice was sole heir. I had helped get treatment for his bradycardia (sent him to cardiologist despite PCP thinking not a problem, niece took to 8:30AM appt, 12:30 pacemaker inserted) and fought to get treatment for sudden difficulty swallowing: esophageal CA and later the right Hospice program that allowed him to die at home.

    The second client was a multi-millionaire widower that had 24hr private duty nursing (13 RNs) due to trach care. We nurses would look for the cheapest price on quart bottles of peroxide and buy it by the case! His secretary of 40 years called the shots for him and with our input had him seen by a surgeon at Mass Ear + Eye institute: had tracheal reconstruction and was able to speak with trach closed after 3 years (Ever assist with a larynoscopy in a living room?). Was present when he married his secretary and at his death 1 1/2 years later. The nurses + wife have continued to get-together yearly, 8 yrs later. She died this year, 3 months after her 80th birthday party which I attended.

    Both families were grateful for the care provided that a monetary gift was included with a note. Neither was solicited and I followed the note instructions to treat myself.

    Best wishes for you in your decision.
    Last edit by NRSKarenRN on Nov 18, '01
  4. by   Robin61970
    My views on this are that it is not unethical. You took care of her as her nurse, and then you became her friend. You made special time to do things for her(christmas gift) and cared for her more than her family did. To an elderly person who feels they have been dumped in a facility the kindness they receive from their caregiver can make quite an impact on them. I think it is wonderful that you made her your friend and that you were there for her.....I would feel no guilt about receiveing what she wanted you to have. She wanted you to have it for your kindness and treatment of her.....she did it because she loves you as her family......accept it and be happy.
  5. by   hoolahan
    {{{{{Duckie}}}}} girlfriend, what better compliment could you have? What a testament to the wondeful person you are. Old people change their wills at the drop of a hat sometimes, if this one or that one is not kind to them. Hey, I am not saying that is a bad thing, but when you get to be that age, you want to make a statement to those you leave behind. This lady knew she couldn't take her money with her, and I am certain she gave this very careful thought. She wanted to be sure that someone who meant a great deal to her would have a final gift from her. Someone who cared for her, was kind to her, and who went that extra mile to say I see the person, the human, behind the failing body. That wonderful person, that wonderful nurse was YOU! Don't feel guilty, don't feel bad. Don't discuss it with co-workers, it's none of their business!

    I would call the lawyer asap, and ask how much money, and if the neices rec'd anything, and/or are they aware, as the last living relatives that this is the way the will was written. Be sure to casually mention in there, "I wasn't really sure if they were aware because I never had an occassion to see them at the facility."

    It is a modest sum, don't do anything else, put it in the bank and leave it there until you think a long enough time has passed for anyone to protest. If it is a lot of money, I mean a heap of money, maybe you could contact the neices and explain that you feel uncomfortable about it, and wanted to discuss it with them.

    Ask for the lawyers counsel. It was not unethical for her to leave you the money. Let me just say though, that I think you are wise to find out about the neices, money has a habit of turning everyone nasty!

    When my father died, his estate was worth $110,000. His first wife came out of the blue and said my dad never paid her back child support. She had the best lawyers money could buy! My dad left no will. Being that I was 16, mom contested this woman on our behalf, my sister and I. It dragged on for 10 years, until, finally I was ready to have my first child, and I just thought, this is so nuts, I don't need this stress, if the woman wants this money, let her have it. I called my sister, she felt the same way, so I called my half sister, and told her to tell her mom to keep the money (I hope she chokes on it!) Diane, my half-sister, was so emabarrassed that her mom created this fiasco in the first place, she decided to leave her executrix fee of 7% to my sister and I to split. So, out of $110,000, we each got about $4000 after the lawyers got their cut, and taxes. My husband and I did some work to the house to make a nursery for the baby. I was just glad it was over. So, the moral of the story is money can be the root of all evil to some people, so you would be wise to find out the scoop on the neices, b/c you never know.
    I hope it works out for you, you go on a nice vacation, or buy yourself something nice.
  6. by   peter73
    Duckie,
    It is not unethical to accept, if you did not request being named in the will. It is also not unethical, as explained by a former administrator and DON to me when I was named in a will, because it is not a tip or bonus to provide extra care to a resident. The resident is deceased and no longer under your care, case closed. You had no knowledge about the will prior to her death and had no reason to suspect that you would gain anything monitarily from your relationship.
    peter
  7. by   duckie
    Thank you all for your posts, I feel much better having read them. I have a copy of the Will, I recieved it from her lawyer. I am to get a percentage of her estate up front and the balance is divided between her two neices and her brother. Actually, if they do contest it, I'll just tell the attorney to give it to them. I am so happy to know that she knew I really loved her, the money, no matter how little or how much, is not significant to me. To me, fighting about what she has left is a terrible way of cheapening the relationship we had and I loved her for her, not for money. Her nieces were dividing her assets before she even died from what I hear, so quite frankly I do look for them to contest her Will. According to the date on the Will, she changed it over 2 years ago. I am still somewhat shocked by it all and have to be honest, the day I got the letter, I could tell it was from an attorney and I was terrified to open if cause I figured someone was making a lawsuit against where I work and I was named in it too. Boy, was I ever shocked to see how wrong I was. I have told no one about this except my husband and daughter. You are right, it's no one elses business. Thanks for the advice and I guess I'll give her attorney a call this week sometime. God bless to all!

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