Nursing home expenses are a very big consideration when you are looking toward the future.
When you are perfectly capable of handling your own activities of daily living, these costs can seem irrelevant, but the statistics tell a different tale. In fact, most senior citizens will eventually need living assistance.
According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, seven out of ten people who are turning 65 will eventually need long-term care. When you digest this statistic you can see that it is a likelihood rather than a remote possibility.
Many seniors are reasonably confident when it comes to health care costs because they qualify for Medicare. Unfortunately, Medicare will not pay for long-term care. If you were to reside in a nursing home, this is considered to be custodial care rather than medical care or convalescent care. As a result, a nursing home stay is not covered by Medicare.
Nursing homes are very expensive. We have offices in North Carolina and Kentucky. In North Carolina, the median cost for a private room in a nursing home in 2014 is $82,125. In Kentucky the figure is $80,300. It is not uncommon for people to spend multiple years in these facilities.
Many people ultimately apply for Medicaid to pay for long-term care. Though it is a need-based program, it is possible to spend down your assets to meet the eligibility requirements if you act in advance of submitting your application.
Who Is Liable?
Now that we have provided the necessary background information, we can get to the question that serves as the title of this post. If you were to admit a parent to a nursing home, would you in fact be liable for unpaid debts? The answer is a resounding maybe.
It all depends on the circumstances, the state within which you reside, the attitude of the facility, and the nature of the contract that you entered into at the time of admittance.
There has recently been a lot of buzz within the elder law community about filial support laws. There are 29 states in the union that have these laws in place. They require children to take responsibility for their parents under certain circumstances.
North Carolina and Kentucky both have filial support laws.
Though they are on the books, they had been rarely utilized until recently. Some nursing homes have decided to use these laws to seek payment. There have been a number of lawsuits initiated, and a Pennsylvania court found the son of a nursing home resident liable for a $93,000 bill a couple of years ago under filial responsibility laws.
If you are admitting a parent to a nursing home, you may want to ask an elder law attorney to examine the contract before you sign on the dotted line. You can then go forward with a complete understanding of your contractual obligations.