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Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Can Adult Children Be on the Hook for Paying their Parents’ Nursing Home Bills?

Have you talked to your parents about planning for the costs of long-term care? The truth is that the majority of individuals will need long-term care at some point in their lifetime and the costs of such can be substantial, to say the least. The earlier you begin the long-term care planning process, the better as you will likely have more options open to you. Paying for long-term care has become a big issue and has gained even more attention as some states pursue the adult children of nursing home residents for payment on overdue bills. Can you be on the hook for paying your parents’ nursing home bills in New York? Read on to find out more.

Can Adult Children Be on the Hook for Paying their Parents’ Nursing Home Bills?

There are federal regulations in place that prevent a nursing home facility from obligating a third party to be held personally liable as a condition for the admission of a resident. There have been instances, however, where facilities have tried to get around such regulations. Despite a nursing home being unable to hold an adult child liable for paying the nursing home bills of a parent, there have been cases where the adult child has had to pay regardless.

The most commonly exploited loophole lies in admissions agreements the nursing home requires signatures on. Some nursing homes will have an adult child sign the admission agreement in the capacity known as the “responsible party.” Generally speaking, the responsible party is the party agreeing to do whatever he or she can to help ensure that the resident makes timely payments to the nursing home. Should the resident run out of available financial resources to make these payments, the responsible party may then become obliged to apply for Medicaid on behalf of the nursing home resident. Should the responsible party fail to uphold these duties, it is possible that the nursing home may have a basis to sue the responsible party for breach of contract. This is also the case should the responsible party be found to have misused the financial resources of the resident instead of paying the nursing home bill.

As you can see, despite the federal regulations in place protecting third parties for being held responsible for paying the nursing home bills of a parent, there are potential ways for it to still happen. Be sure to read over anything you or your parent must sign prior to being admitted to a nursing home. If you are unsure of any provisions in such agreements, it may be best to first have an attorney review them.

While New York has no such law in place, other states do have filial responsibility laws that can end up making an adult child liable for a parent’s nursing home bills. Although rarely enforced, these laws seem to be coming up more and more as nursing home residents struggle to keep up with payments and Medicaid qualification becomes more difficult. Filial responsibility laws require adult children to provide necessities such as food, clothing, and housing for indigent parents. Thus, some long-term care facilities are using these laws as a basis for pursuing payment from adult children for parents that cannot pay.

Estate Planning Attorneys

Do you have questions about how to plan for the costs of long-term care for you or your parents? Talk to the team at Merlino & Gonzalez. We have answers for you. Contact us today.


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