Am I responsible for my parent's debt?

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Q: Are adult children responsible for the medical bills of their parents?

A: In 30 states, an adult child is legally responsible for the expenses of care of a parent, but such requirement is rarely enforced. However, recently nursing homes in both Pennsylvania and South Dakota have sued surviving children for the nursing home bills of their deceased parents.

To avoid such problems, the children should have applied for Medicaid coverage of the parent's nursing home expenses, since the income and assets of the children are not counted in determining the Medicaid eligibility of a parent. In addition, if the parent does become covered by Medicaid, upon the parent's death there is no liability of the children to pay back the state any of the money the state paid out on behalf of the parent while on Medicaid.


K. Gabriel Heiser is an elder law attorney and author of "How to Protect Your Family's Assets from Devastating Nursing Home Costs: Medicaid Secrets." Read his full biography

K. Gabriel Heiser is an attorney with over 25 years of experience in elder law and estate planning. He is the author of "How to Protect Your Family's Assets from Devastating Nursing Home Costs: Medicaid Secrets," an annually updated practical guide for the layperson.

Medicaid Secrets

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