Be Wary of Nursing Home Financial Responsibility Contracts

As you look to provide care for an aging parent or other loved one, there are many factors to consider. Should your parent remain at home? Does he or she require a full-time caregiver? Would a nursing facility or senior living center be a better option? Is there one nearby that you can trust?  Of course, beyond the personal or health care questions, there is also the issue of finances. This can be especially true with nursing homes, as the admission paperwork may include some rather surprising clauses that, if you are not careful, could leave you unexpectedly responsible for your loved one’s bills.

No Filial Responsibility Law in Illinois

Nearly 30 states, as well as Puerto Rico, maintain laws, known as filial responsibility laws, which could compel a son or daughter to assume financial responsibility for the care of an ailing parent. Due to the rise of government programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, a number of other states repealed similar laws, while many simply allowed them to go relatively unused. With nursing homes and other long-term facilities struggling to care for an increasingly aging population, several recent court decisions have indicated that more adult children will be required to help their parents pay for needed care.

While they do exist in neighboring states, including Kentucky, Indiana, and Iowa, there are no such filial responsibility laws in the state of Illinois. However, some nursing homes may try to get a family member to guarantee payment of a resident’s expenses.

Admission Contracts and Paperwork

In most cases, admission to a nursing facility requires a prospective resident, or a designated power of attorney, to sign a large number of documents granting consent to provide care and accepting certain rights and responsibilities. Included in such paperwork may be third-party financial guarantee, which the nursing home administration hopes a family member or other responsible party will sign. According to federal law, admission cannot be contingent on the financial guarantee by a third party. This does not mean, however, that you are not permitted to voluntarily sign one.
You may be perfectly willing to cover the costs of your loved one’s long-term care, but, on the other hand, you may not be willing or able. That is why is it vitally important to fully understand every document that you sign and the responsibility to which you are agreeing. It may be tempting to quickly sign everything placed in front of you to expedite the process. By doing so, however, you may risk unintended financial obligations and surprise bills years down the road.

Help With Nursing Home Arrangements

If you and your loved one are looking into nursing facilities or senior living centers, contact an experienced Orland Park elder law attorney. Our highly-trained legal team can help you review all of the necessary documents and address any concerns you may have. Schedule your initial consultation today by calling 708-518-8200.