You Can Be Sued For Your Parents’ Nursing Home Bill

Yes, you read that correctly.  In Pennsylvania, a nursing home can sue the adult children for any unpaid nursing home bills.  This law is called the Filial Support Law and you need to be aware of it if your parents are currently receiving care or may need car in the future.  

This law has been in existence for decades but has only recently been used by nursing homes to recover for a parent’s unpaid medical bills. 

The law imposes a liability for you to care for an indigent parent, spouse or child.  It is a support law, similar to how you might think about Spousal Support or Child Support.  Your duty to provide is a result of your family relationship and there’s very little you can do to successfully defend the suit.

The right for the nursing home to sue only becomes effective if no one else is paying the bills.  This typically arises when a senior enters the nursing home but is ineligible for Medicaid benefits.  People will typically become ineligible because of uncompensated transfers of assets, like gifting the house to the children.  

The lesson here is to not make costly Medicaid Mistakes in the first place.  If you are worried about the costs of long term care, you should seek the help of an experienced Elder Law attorney to help you plan.