Will You Need to Pay Your Parent’s Florida Nursing Home Bill in the New Year?

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Do you currently have a parent in a Florida nursing home? Were you aware that there is a question about whether children will need to pay an aging Florida parent’s nursing home bill?  Of course, as everyone understands, the concept of parents being held legally responsible for the action and debts of their minor children is acceptable. However, did you think that there would ever be the possibility of adult children being responsible for the debts of their parents? Interestingly enough, almost half of the states in the U.S. have filial responsibility laws, which can create a legal obligation of adult children for their parents. Currently, little attention may be paid to these laws, however, it could be that when a parent is placed in a nursing home these laws may have some potential to go after adult children. At present, nursing homes utilizing filial responsibility laws to force adult children to pay the nursing home bills of their parents is the exception, rather than the norm. These laws, however, remain on the books in many states.

Would adult children be responsible for anything else? Yes, filial responsibility laws may obligate adult children to cover the cost of their parents’ food, clothing, shelter and medical expenses when the parents themselves cannot afford to do so. Some states, recently, have seen these laws applied in a novel way to obtain judgments against adult children for the bills incurred by their parents in a nursing home. Because of the extremely high cost of nursing homes, this may be a legal risk adult children cannot afford to ignore. 

What can adult children do? Begin by having a critical discussion with your parent regarding their ability to afford a nursing home. Find out whether your parent has long-term care insurance, it may be something they elected to obtain as an employment benefit. Now if this is the case, it is important for you, as their adult child, to have a copy of the policy. Why is it important? Because if your parent suffered a stroke and experienced loss of mental capacity, there may be a real possibility of no one ever learning about their long-term care policy. Another possibility, you may find out in your discussion with your parent that they have been putting money aside to cover a nursing home. If this is the case, you, as the adult child, should have a way to access these funds, perhaps via a durable power of attorney or a trust. 

However, what happens if your parent does not have insurance or the means to cover a nursing home? Then it may be necessary to find out whether they have Medicaid or what Medicaid planning needs to be done in order to make your parent Medicaid eligible. Medicaid would go towards covering the nursing home expenses. Through all this we would highly recommend that you and your parent schedule a meeting with an experienced Florida elder law attorney as soon as possible.

We know this article raises more questions than it answers. We provide expert service to guide you through the medical, financial, and emotional stress of caring for an aging parent or spouse. Our law firm was born out of the personal journey of Attorney H. Frances Reaves as she cared for her own parents.  This experience taught her that most seniors in the United States are ignored by society, the government, business and, sadly, their children.  Most children of elderly parents don’t know how many benefits and resources are available for their parents or ailing family members. Let us help you. We encourage you to contact us and schedule a meeting.