Could You Be on the Hook?

You’ve moved your mom or dad into a nursing home. You’re breathing a sigh of relief. The stress of caring for your parent is now behind you. You can rest easy knowing that they’ll be well cared for by skilled nursing staff, right?

Unfortunately, long-term care is expensive. In some parts of the U.S., it can run as much as $12,000 per month. Do you know where the money will come from to pay for your parents’ care? What if your mom or dad can no longer pay the bill? Can you, the adult child, be held responsible?

Being on the hook for a parent’s nursing home bill is a scenario that few people think about. Could it happen to you?

Some states have a “filial support” law that states adult children have a duty to care for their indigent parents. This includes paying medical and long-term care bills. The law varies widely from state to state and is typically interpreted on a case by case basis in the court. The individual circumstances of an adult child’s ability to pay will also be considered.

In some states, laws exist that allow nursing homes to come after the adult children if the residents can’t pay. Even if you live in a state without a filial support law, there may be other legal routes that a facility can take that involve sending the bill to adult children or other relatives.

How do families end up in this situation? Nursing home bills often start to pile up when private insurance, a person’s own money, or Medicare is exhausted. If you’ve run out of money, applying for Medicaid becomes the next step. During the time between the Medicaid application and approval, the bill can add up fast, especially if you do the Medicaid paperwork on your own and make a mistake.

What can you do?

First, get familiar with your parents’ financial situation. Do they have adequate savings? Do they have long-term care insurance? What is the likelihood they will outlive their money? Work with a financial planner to know what options you have and how to make the most of your resources.

Next, call your nearest Life Care Planning Law Firm. That’s where you’ll find legal experts who specialize in locating, securing, and paying for quality elder care. They’ll also know if you live in a state that has a filial responsibility law. You will want to start planning the moment you discover that long-term care will be needed in the future. If public benefits like VA Aid and Attendance or Medicaid are needed to pay for care, your elder law attorney will handle the application process for you.

By the way, if the nursing home staff offers to complete the Medicaid application forms for you, politely decline. That’s a job for the attorneys and the Medicaid specialists at your Life Care Planning Law Firm. When you work with experts, you will avoid mistakes that could cause unnecessary delays or penalties that could be financially devastating.

In addition, your elder law attorney will also help you decipher confusing long-term care facility contracts. You will know your rights going in and avoid signing agreements that put you at a disadvantage. 

If you think the prospect of being on the hook for your parents’ long-term care is ridiculous, think again. It happens to unsuspecting families every day. When you have a Life Care Planning Law Firm on your side, it won’t happen to you.