While it is possible that you may be responsible for your parent’s nursing home costs, it is not likely. Federal Medicaid law prohibits long-term care facilities from coming after the adult children of their patients who are receiving Medicaid for payment. However, it is possible for an adult child to be responsible for a parent’s long-term care costs if the parent is unable to pay the costs and does not qualify for Medicaid, the child is able to pay the costs, and the nursing facility sues the child. However, this is a very rare circumstance that does not occur very often. Plus, while some states have filial responsibility laws, meaning that adult children are responsible for providing parents with a means of subsistence, Michigan does not have such a law in effect.
With respect to your parents’ debts, you generally are not responsible for paying them off, except in very limited circumstances. If your parents do not have assets sufficient to open an estate, you are not required to use any assets or funds that you inherit to pay off their debts. Keep in mind, however, that in the case of a secured debt, or one that is secured by collateral, or some item of property, failure to pay the debt will give the creditor the right to repossess the collateral. In other words, if your parent has a vehicle loan, the bank holding the loan can repossess your parent’s vehicle if the vehicle loan is not paid.
Another exception would be if you are a co-signer on your parent’s credit card account, vehicle loan, or mortgage loan. In those situations, you would be responsible for those debts, just as you would with your spouse or anyone else with whom you chose to have a joint account. If you don’t pay those debts, the creditor can sue you as a joint owner of the account.
You also must pay valid creditor claims against your parent’s assets if you have opened an estate in probate court. All creditors must file a claim against the estate in order to receive payment, but the personal representative for the estate also has the duty to identify your parent’s debts and notify any creditors. Some debts have priority over others, so it is important to get a full picture of all debts owed by your parent in order to pay them in the proper order.
The Ann Arbor long-term care lawyers of Legacy Law Center are experienced in ensuring that you have the comprehensive and up-to-date long-term care and estate plan in place that best will benefit you and your family. We are your trusted advisors who are skilled in looking at all facets of your life, evaluating your needs, and working collaboratively with you and your family to create a plan that meets all of your needs. Contact Legacy Law Center today and learn how we can help you make the right decisions for you and your family.
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