Did you know you could be legally responsible for your parents’ long term care bill?
Pennsylvania is one of a handful of states that have a filial responsibility statute. The concept behind this law is to hold close relatives liable for the care and support of a poor relative. The law allows nursing homes to sue adult children for their parents’ care. Historically, these laws have rarely been used by health care facilities as the basis for a lawsuit. However, the tightening of government budgets is likely to result in an increase in these cases.
To be clear, the problem isn’t the nursing home. Nursing homes provide valuable services and deserve to be paid. The problem is a fragmented and complicated government system that results in families unknowingly making legal mistakes.
Normally, when a senior is unable to pay for nursing home care, the bill is paid by Medicaid (Medical Assistance in PA). However, many families unknowinglymake planning mistakes, resulting in a Medicaid denial. If this happens, the children can expect the nursing home to take action to have their bill paid.
This law raises a number of troubling concerns and questions: What if the kids and parent are estranged? What about the kids' property and privacy rights? What if the children have their own debts? What happens if there are multiple children with different means?
The key to avoiding this type of situation is to have a solid long-term care plan in place far in advance of the need for care. You can learn more by attending one of our FREE educational workshops in Butler, Mars, Franklin and Meadville. To register, log on to HeritageElderLaw.com or call (724) 841-0004.