Garnished wages could be sent to nursing homes on parents’ behalf
Could a nursing home feasibly sue you for your parents’ inability to pay their own nursing care bills? Believe it or not, they actually could. Depending on the laws of your state, filial responsibility laws could make you legally responsible to pay for the care of your parents if they can’t or don’t pay for themselves. These laws have been around for a while, but they’re being enforced more and more as long-term health care becomes a greater burden.
These filial responsibility laws are currently only prominent in 29 states and Puerto Rico, but if you live in one of those states, you should be keeping a keen eye on your bills. Georgia is one of the states that has a filial responsibility law, so it’s important to know what that could mean for you. While some states impose fines or imprisonment or both, nearly all states could see you subjected to wage garnishment in order to pay for the nursing bills.
Depending on where your parents are receiving care, having to pay for their care could be an insurmountable financial burden. A 2012 case in Pennsylvania saw the son of a nursing home patient facing a $93,000 nursing home bill in a lawsuit. These familial responsibility laws used to focus mainly on children who had engaged in inappropriate conduct with their parents’ assets. However, the Pennsylvania case found that the victim committed no such crime but still held him responsible for his mother’s debt. This seems to indicate that the court orders are becoming less particular about whom they hold financially responsible.
If you have a parent in a nursing home, make sure that he or she is financially capable of paying the bills. If not, then you should be prepared to pay for them yourself, whether you want to or not. A court order could potentially rule that your wages be garnished in order to pay for the bills. If you get saddled with these bills that you can’t pay for, you have legal options, including filing for bankruptcy to stop wage garnishment and halt creditor harassment.
Source: Forbes, “Who Will Pay For Mom’s Or Dad’s Nursing Home Bill? Filial Support Laws And Long-Term Care,” Feb. 3, 2014