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My Mother Died and the Nursing Home Is Sending Me Bills. Do I Have to Pay Them?

  • December 9th, 2020
Q
My mother passed away after contracting COVID-19 at the nursing home where she was living. We'd been trying for months to get her qualified for Medicaid, but she didn't qualify until after she'd passed away. Medicaid only paid for part of the nursing home charge, as her name was on a joint account with my dad (despite her never using the money in the account), and I am now getting bills saying I need to pay them. I don't think I should be required to pay these bills. Am I financially responsible for them?
A

We are sorry to hear about your loss. There are two kinds of potential financial responsibility: personal responsibility where you would have to pay from your own funds and responsibility on behalf of your mother to pay from her funds. You would only have personal responsibility if you signed a personal guaranty with the facility. Otherwise, children are not responsible for their parents’ bills, medical or otherwise. You could, however, be required to pay from your mother’s own funds. It sounds like she did not have any funds other than the joint bank account with your father and that account should have passed to your father at your mother’s death, so there is no probate estate. That said, your father may still owe the nursing home. First, unlike children, spouses are responsible for one another’s maintenance, potentially including health care costs. In addition, what is owed may be your mother’s income that should have been paid to the facility. If that income went to your father, then he would owe it to the facility.

 

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Last Modified: 12/09/2020

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