In response to your questions:
You, as the owner, determine how much you want to charge the resident, (ie by how much care he/she needs, a set rate no matter what, etc). Majority that I know, have a base rate and then increase the rate as more care is needed, much like the tier you described. Based on the care that your father-in-law needs, I probably would have charged the same if not a little more, maybe $4,000 (of course, if the family could afford it. No use in charging more if the family can't afford it. You usually get a feel for how much the family can afford. They're usually pretty open about it).
2) You can get the forms either online or mailed to you (depends on your state licensing office). I didn't get a lawyer. They're pretty straight forward. In MI, there is a big difference if you open a Family Home (where you live in the home that's licensed) or a Group Home (don't live there). Group home requirements are more and much more specific. What I did was open a Family Home and then convert it to a Group home after a few years. It's easier, especially at the beginning and if you're not sure if this is going to work out for you or not.
3). I used an accountant and would recommend it. They know what you can deduct better than you. Also, remember diff state, diff laws. They know the laws for that state.
4). I did not get state funding. I'm assuming you're refering to medicaid. In order to accept residents on medicaid, you have to be approved for that thru medicaid office (I believe)...which is separate from your board and care license. I've heard from others that were approved for medicaid that it's really a pain in the behind. There are twice as many visits from the licensing dept and requirements are a lot more stringint (in terms of physical enviromnent, reporting, etc). Plus, pay-wise, it's not worth it. In MI, I think they only pay like $1,000/mo or so. A lot of the board and care that accept dev delayed, mentally impaired, traumatically brain injured will accept medicaid. Not many that speciallize in elderly though.
5). YES!!! I would most definitely advertise that you have a nurse on call. BUT like you said, you have to make sure that you have someone to cover you while you are away. It's a BIG PLUS, in terms of advertising. Think of assisted living facilities that don't have nurses on call. You can offer that, they can't. Also, when families know that there's a nurse on call, it gives them peace of mind, knowing that there is professional care available in case their loved one needs it.
Ok, I'll post this and respond to your other questions in another post...This is gettting really long and I type so slow