As an adult child you will likely be faced with the decision to put your parent in a nursing home at some point in time. The decision itself is often heart wrenching. Along with the emotional aspect of putting your parent in a nursing home you will also need to consider the financial aspect. With an average yearly costs of close to $80,000, long-term care costs can deplete a life savings rapidly. What you may not realize is that it could be your life savings that gets depleted because you could be held financially responsible for your parent’s nursing home costs.
Laws that hold adult children financially responsible for medical and long-term care costs incurred by their parents are referred to as “filial responsibility” laws. Currently, over half of the states have a filial responsibility law in place. Although the laws vary from one state to another, they all have a common theme – they could make you legally responsible for your parent’s nursing home debt.
If you signed an agreement making you responsible for your parent’s nursing home debt you will be held to that agreement should your parent be unable to cover the costs. Filial responsibility laws, however, can hold you responsible even if you never agreed to be responsible. As a general rule, the following conditions must be met before a care provider will come after an adult child for payment:
The parent was not covered by private insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid.
The parent lacked sufficient income and/or assets to cover the bill.
The adult child does have the resources to pay the bill.
The facility is in a state with a filial responsibility law.
Just because you live in a state that does not have a filial responsibility law does not mean you are in the clear. If the facility that provided care for your parent has a filial responsibility law they may be able to pursue payment from you even if your state of residence doesn’t have a similar law.
Qualifying for Medicaid is often the key to avoiding worries over payment for nursing home care. First, Medicaid will typically pay the majority of the costs and second, federal law prohibits going after adult children for payment of any funds left owing.
If you have additional questions or concerns about Medicaid planning, elder law, or your Illinois estate plan in general, contact the experienced Illinois estate planning attorneys at Nash Bean Ford & Brown, LLP by calling 309-944-2188 to schedule your appointment today.
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