With long-term care costs averaging $12,000 to $14,000 per month, many seniors run out of savings to pay these expenses. In some cases, when parents are unable to pay long-term care costs, facilities may pursue their adult children for payment.
Are you legally liable for your parents’ unpaid long-term care bills?
Financial responsibility of adult children
Unless your parent abandoned you for at least 10 years while you were still a minor, Pennsylvania law makes you financially responsible for your parents’ unpaid long-term care expenses. For this reason, it is important to get involved in your parents’ long-term healthcare and financial planning decisions.
Avoiding financial responsibility
If long-term care exhausts your parents’ financial resources, they may be eligible to receive Medical Assistance through the state’s Medicaid program. However, you must make sure your parent applies for the program in a timely manner.
Additionally, it is a good idea to seek legal advice. The Department of Human Services will request 60 months’ worth of financial records when your parents apply for Medicaid. If they find that their funds have been transferred without fair consideration or given away, there may be a period of ineligibility for which Medicaid will not pay for their long-term care expenses.
If your parents run out of money for long-term care and DHS finds that they have given away money or other assets in the 60 months before their Medicaid application, assistance may be denied, and the facility may seek payment from you or your siblings.
You and your parents should estimate potential long-term care expenses and consider the potential ramifications of running out of money in your parents’ estate plan. Getting legal advice sooner rather than later may help to protect you from liability for your parents’ bills.