Nursing home expenses are a major cause of concern within the elder law community. The senior population is aging rapidly, and the oldest segment of the population is growing faster than any other. When you reach an advanced age, you may well require nursing home care.
In fact, according to government statistics, the vast majority of senior citizens will eventually need help with their activities of daily living.
The Medicare program does not pay for nursing home expenses. This is a very big deal, because nursing home costs can easily consume all of the resources that you intended to leave behind to your loved ones. In many areas of the country, an extended nursing home stay can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Medicaid is the solution for the majority of people who need long-term care. This government program will pay for living assistance if you can meet the eligibility requirements. Because it is a need-based program, people often divest themselves of assets to meet the eligibility requirements.
Responsibilities of Adult Children
If you are an adult and you are helping a parent enter a nursing home, are you responsible for any unpaid bills that may present themselves? The answer is multifaceted.
For the most part, you would not be held responsible, but it all depends on your contractual obligations. There was a case that was decided by an appellate court in Connecticut in 2012. The daughter of a nursing home resident was held responsible for unpaid nursing home costs, because she signed a contract that required her to take certain steps to obtain Medicaid coverage on behalf of her mother.
The court found that she did not uphold her contractual obligations.
Clearly, to avoid this type of thing, you should be absolutely certain about what you are getting into before you sign on the dotted line. You would do well to consult with an elder law attorney before you make any legally binding commitments.
There is also the matter of filial responsibility laws. These laws make adult children responsible for their parents if their parents are indigent. A number of states in the union have these laws on the books. A couple of years ago a Pennsylvania man was held responsible for his mother’s unpaid nursing home debts, and the court cited the state’s filial responsibility laws.
We practice in Indiana, and Indiana does in fact have filial responsibility laws.
This does not mean that you will necessarily be sued under these laws if there are any unpaid debts, but it is an area of the law that is unfolding at the present time.
Elder Law Consultation
If you would like to discuss the matter of nursing home costs with a licensed attorney, send us a message through this link to request a free consultation: Indianapolis IN Elder Law Attorney.
Mr. Kraft assists clients primarily in the areas of estate planning and administration, Medicaid planning, federal and state taxation, real estate and corporate law, bringing the added perspective of an accounting background to his work.