TRENTON, NJ - Sen. Christopher "Kip" Bateman’s legislation protecting seniors and their families from being taken advantage of by retirement communities passed the New Jersey Senate.

“In their twilight years, older New Jerseyans should be concerned with being comfortable and cared for, not caught up in a financial tug-of-war with their retirement community,” said Bateman (R-16 Somerset/Hunterdon/Mercer/Middlesex16).

“Often entrance fees are hundreds of thousands of dollars, with seniors guaranteed a reimbursement when they leave the facility or pass on," he added. "Yet we’ve seen many instances when seniors and their families have to wait years for their money to arrive back. Ensuring our seniors and their estate receive timely refunds within a year of vacancy is only fair and common sense.”

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Bateman’s bipartisan bill seeks to limit the time a continuing care retirement community (CCRC) can retain a refundable entrance fee after a resident leaves the facility.

A published report outlined how a CCRC held Ed Nagle’s deceased mother’s entrance fee’s “hostage,” resulting in an $88,481 loss for his family. A similar incident occurred to Patricia Lund, who after two years of living in a CCRC, opted to move in with her son and daughter-in-law in 2009. However, she has yet to receive her refundable entrance fee – worth over $160,000.

According to the Organization of Resident Associations of New Jersey (ORANJ) there are over 10,000 seniors housed in 26 CCRCs throughout New Jersey.

“CCRC’s failing to promptly refund the entrance fee, when explicitly agreed upon, is a bait-and-switch,” added Bateman. “Keeping our seniors both physically and financially safe is important to all New Jerseyans and their families.”