Can I Be Responsible for My Parent’s Long-Term Health Care Costs?

Two cases in Pennsylvania highlight the need for adult children to work with their parents to ensure they have a way to pay for future long-term care, if necessary. In a story published in Investment News, the author discusses the two cases and how those cases related to filial laws. In both cases, adult children were required to pay for the care that their parents needed because their parents could not afford to pay the costs themselves.

What are Filial Laws?

Filial laws or Filial responsibility laws vary from state to state. In most cases, filial laws can impose a duty on adult children to pay for their parent’s health care and/or personal care. In other words, if your parents cannot afford to pay for their nursing home care, living expense, medical care, or assisted living care, the court could require you to pay these expenses. Many of the state laws require that the parent is indigent or have very little income before holding an adult child responsible for the payment of the parent’s expenses.

An adult child who is barely making ends meet may not have the funds to pay for a parent’s medical or personal care. Some filial laws do not require these children to contribute to the cost of care for their parent. However, in many states, the laws allow parents, government agencies, nursing homes, and hospitals to file lawsuits against adult children to seek payment for the parent’s expenses.

If your parents are unable to pay for nursing home care, assisted living expenses, medical care, or living expenses, it is important to seek the advice of an experienced Michigan estate planning attorney. You and your parents may have other options to resolve the issue instead of waiting for a third party to sue you for your parents’ debts.

The Pennsylvania Cases

In one of the cases described in the article, a Pennsylvanian man was ordered to pay a $93,000 nursing home debt because his mother could not afford to pay the bill. In another case, a sibling petitioned the court to force siblings to pay a portion of the financial assistance their mother required. In both cases, the plaintiffs sued under the state’s filial laws.

What About Medicaid?

Many people assume that Medicaid automatically pays for nursing home care for seniors. However, your parents must qualify for Medicaid. If your parents have income or assets that exceed the amounts allowed by Medicaid, your parent will be personally responsible for the payment of medical costs, including nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

Therefore, if your parents do not qualify for Medicaid and cannot pay for their own care, the issue of payment for care and filial laws can become issues that adult children must address.  However, there is something you can do. You can work with your parents and our Michigan Medicaid planning attorney to help ensure that your parents have the benefits they need to pay for long-term care.

Medicaid Planning in Michigan

Nursing home care is very expensive. The average cost for a nursing home is $8,121 per month for a private room, according to a survey by Genworth. Even home health care can be costly. The average monthly cost for homemaker services for 2017 is $3,994, and a home health aide costs $4,099 per month. If you do not make plans now for long-term care costs, you could be risking your adult children’s finances and the assets you worked so hard to acquire during your lifetime.

One way to pay for nursing home care is to purchase long-term care insurance.  However, this option can be costly, and the insurance might not cover the full cost of long-term care. However, our Michigan Medicaid planning attorneys can help you take steps now to increase the chance that you will qualify for Medicaid benefits. Medicaid benefits can pay for the entire cost of nursing home care.

Medicaid planning is not unethical nor illegal. Medicaid provides benefits for low-income individuals and families; however, it also benefits the elderly and disabled. Our lawyers simply work within the law to help you protect what you have worked hard to achieve. We help you protect your assets for yourself and your loved ones. We strictly adhere to the state Medicaid laws to devise strategies that can help you qualify for Medicaid benefits to pay for nursing home care so that you nor your children need to worry about how to pay close to one hundred thousand dollars a year for nursing home care.

Trusted and Compassionate Michigan Medicaid Planning Attorneys

The Elder Care Firm of Christopher J. Berry, CELA assists clients with estate planning, retirement planning, and Medicaid planning. To schedule an appointment with one of our lawyers, contact our office by calling 888-390-4360 or by using the contact form on our website.

Source: “Filial laws put kids on the hook for parents’ health-care costs.” Greg Lacurci. Investment News. November 22, 2017.

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