If you have a parent who is currently in a nursing home, or who will likely spend time in a nursing home in the near future, you are likely aware of the high cost of long-term care. With an average yearly cost of over $75,000, and an average length of stay of 2.5 years, concerns relating to who will cover your parent’s nursing home bill are understandable. Specifically, you may be wondering “ Can I be held responsible for my parent’s nursing home expenses? ” Laws relating to “filial responsibility” are complex and vary from state to state. Only an experienced elder law attorney can review your specific situation and advise you whether or not you may be held financially responsible for your parent’s debt; however, a better understanding of how the law handles the issue in general may be a good place to start.
An adult child may be legally responsible for long-term care debts of a parent if the parent lives (lived) in a state with a “filial responsibility” law. About half of all states currently have a filial responsibility law in place. Though the laws vary somewhat, in states with a filial responsibility law the basic premise of the law is that an adult child can be held responsible for a parent’s nursing home debt if certain factors are present, such as:
The parent did not have private insurance that covered the care.
The parent did not qualify for Medicaid.
The parent had insufficient income and/or assets to cover the expenses.
The child does have sufficient income and/or assets to cover the expenses.
In addition, if you sign an agreement saying you will be responsible for any costs not covered by insurance/Medicaid/Medicare you can be held responsible for those costs as well.
Ultimately, it is up to the nursing home whether or not to pursue payment from an adult child if a filial responsibility law does exist. To make matter more complicated, the nursing home could pursue payment from you even if the state in which you live does not have a filial responsibility law as long as the state where the care was provided does have one.
The best way to ensure that your parent’s long-term care expenses are covered is to include Medicaid planning in his or her estate plan well ahead of time. Whether you are just now planning for the future or you suddenly find yourself facing financial liability for care your deceased parent received prior to death, consulting with an experienced Texas estate planning attorney is essential. Contact the experienced Texas estate planning attorneys at The Mendel Law Firm, L.P. by calling 281-759-3213 to schedule your appointment today.