Watch CBS News

Avoiding financial responsibility for your parents as they get older

Avoiding financial responsibility for your parents as they get older
Avoiding financial responsibility for your parents as they get older 02:14

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Watching parents age can be tough enough, but did you know you can be held financially responsible for some of the bills they accumulate? You could even be sued.

No matter how much you love them, caring for an elderly person is not cheap.

"The long term care costs and specifically the most expensive, which is skilled nursing costs, which is about $12,000 to $14,000 a month right now in Pennsylvania, so it's incredibly expensive," said Julian Gray, Esq., who is an elder law specialist.

Gray says that savings will run out fast in these situations.

In Pennsylvania, if the parent isn't able to pay for more, nursing homes and facilities can take action to sue the adult children.

Gray says the key to avoid being sued is to be proactive, to know your parents' financial situation, and to know when they'll run out of money.

"You know, Pennsylvania provides for the ability to get on medical assistance once the resident is indigent. The problem is many people ignore and so they rack up a big bill, and they didn't realize the kids are now responsible," Gray said.

This means that applying for help early on is key.

"Almost every nursing home in Pennsylvania is Medicaid and Medicare certified, which means that they have to accept Medicaid reimbursement at the rate the state reimburses the mat regardless of where they are," Gray said.

Gray says it's highly unusual for someone to be forced out of a nursing home if they've applied for assistance -- which can be done through your County Assistance Agency.

When it comes to other bills like credit cards, or mortgages, adult children are generally not responsible for those, too.

Gray says those items fall under assets of the estate and that creditors cannot come after the children even if the assets don't cover the debt.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.