Have you considered the possibility that, if your parent ends up in a nursing home, you may be legally on the hook for the bill? Many do not, yet a significant number of U.S. states have a filial responsibility law on the books. These laws obligate adult children to cover the cost of their indigent parents’ food, clothing, shelter and medical expenses. If they do not, nursing homes and government agencies have the authority to bring legal action to recover these costs of care. 

While most of these laws may be old and exist because the state has never repealed them, this does not necessarily mean they are unenforceable. In recent years, successful lawsuits have been brought under these laws. Any adult child of an aging parent should have the following important conversations with their parents before the need for a nursing home arises:  

  1. Do they have long-term care insurance or benefits existing from a company they worked for? There may be coverage or benefits which will cover the cost of the nursing home, but it can be vital that adult children are aware of the coverage or benefit before their parent experiences any cognitive decline. These benefits may not automatically kick-in. An adult child should have copies of any policies and a clear understanding of the steps required to activate the coverage or benefit.
  1. Have they signed up for the appropriate government programs? By signing up for the federal and state healthcare programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid, if they are eligible, coverage for the nursing home may be provided, helping to remove the risk to an adult child. Determining eligibility and applying for benefits can be one of the most important asset protection steps.
  1. Have they executed a durable power of attorney? Having your parent designate you as their durable power of attorney can allow you access to their accounts to make payments and manage their finances should they become unexpectedly incapacitated.

Our office can assist you in navigating the preparation for nursing home bills, so your parents’ golden years are not marred by financial black clouds. Please reach out to us to schedule an appointment time.