In an article that EVERY Boomer should read, “Are You on the Hook for Mom’s Nursing Home Bill?” (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303506404577446410116857508.html), in the June 22, 2012 Wall Street Journal, Kelly Greene notes that “29 states have ‘filial support’ laws that could be used to go after patients’ adult children for unpaid long-term-care bills.” And although these laws have not been enforced in many states, “…Pennsylvania nursing homes have started routinely using the law to prod families into paying their elders’ bills or completing Medicaid paperwork on their behalf.” And it’s a good bet that other states will begin to use their laws as Medicaid funding dries up and nursing homes become increasingly desperate to cover their costs.
So just when you thought Mom and Dad would receive their long-term care (LTC) in a local nursing home at the federal government’s expense, you may be asked to ante up – conceivably for hundreds of thousands of those dollars that you were planning to support your comfortable retirement!
The answer, of course, is early planning. “The best defense against such laws, elder-law experts say, is planning,” Greene continues. ‘If your parents aren’t multimillionaires, then you need to get some advice way early, maybe when they’re 65,’ says Carolyn Rosenblatt, aSan Franciscomediator, elder-law attorney and registered nurse. ‘By the time they’re in their 80s, most people need some help. How would you pay for that?’
The best way to eliminate this potential problem entirely is to begin a discussion of LTC insurance with your parents when they reach their 50s or early 60s at the latest. And while you’re at it, you can begin planning to purchase your OWN LTC insurance so you don’t your children don’t have to suffer through the same emotional and financial stress in your later years.