Are You Responsible for Your Parent’s Nursing Home Bills?

Nursing Home BillsAdult children are not responsible for their parent’s nursing home bills under New York state law. Also, federal regulation 42 CFR Part 483, Subpart B. Section 483.15 prohibits nursing homes from requiring a third party to be personally liable as a condition for admission. However, children often unwittingly become personally liable by signing the nursing home admission agreement as a “responsible party” in their personal capacity, and not as a power of attorney agent or Article 81 guardian.

By signing as a “responsible party”, children agree to: take all necessary steps to insure that the e patient’s funds are used to pay the nursing home, have the patient apply for Medicaid benefits when eligible, and provide Medicaid with all necessary information and documentation. If the application is denied or not properly completed, the “responsible party” may be held liable for breach of contract and become responsible for any unpaid nursing home bills.

The New York County Supreme Court in Jewish Home Lifecare v. Ast ruled that the nursing home could sue a child who signed the admissions agreement for breach of contract. He failed to apply for Medicaid or use his mother’s money to pay the nursing home, and had fraudulently transferred her money to himself.

The Suffolk County Supreme Court, in Jopal at St. James, LLC v. Manning ruled that a son was personally responsible for failing to use assets he held jointly with his mother to pay her nursing home bill. As “responsible party,” he had accepted personal responsibility to use his mother’s funds to pay for her care and failed to apply available assets towards her care. He had agreed as a “responsible party” to: (a) not personally use his mother’s funds so that the nursing home could not receive payment from either her funds or Medicaid or receive assets from her which would cause such nonpayment;(b) use such assets or an amount equal to such assets to assure continuity of payment until Medicaid covered such costs; and (c) to be personally obligated to cooperate in timely obtaining Medicaid coverage.

To avoid personal responsibility for your parent’s nursing home bills, contact Robert Friedman, Attorney at 716.542.5444 or 585.343.0746 before signing the nursing home admissions agreement.

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