Legally Speaking: Are adult children responsible for parents’ long-term care expenses? | Business

I once heard of a case in which a woman’s indigent mother had been receiving Medicaid assistance from the state for hospice care and foster home care for a lengthy period of time prior to the mother’s death. Under Medicaid eligibility rules, the mother was not allowed to have assets, except for a checking account of no more than $2,800.

Upon the mother’s death, there was a remaining balance of about $2,100 in the checking account, which had been set up as a POD (Payable Upon Death) account designated to go to the daughter upon the mother’s death. The daughter decided to use the funds to apply toward her mother’s funeral expenses, which totaled about $2,500.

Several months after the funeral, the daughter received a form letter from the Estate Administration Unit of the Oregon Department of Human Services. The letter from the state sought to recover the mother’s assets to reimburse for the costs of assistance that had been paid out by the state for the mother’s care.

This was alarming to the daughter because the funds had already been used for payment of funeral expenses. Upon discussing further with the state representative, the daughter learned that up to $3,500 could be allowed as funeral expenses. The daughter submitted paperwork to prove that the funds were used for funeral expenses, and that appeared to satisfy the state.

Persons who apply for Medicaid assistance are required to meet eligibility requirements based on both assets and income. They are not allowed to have more than a minimal amount of assets. Thus, in the case described above, the mother did not have other assets beyond the $2,100 in her checking account.

Under Medicaid rules, adult children are not required to contribute their own assets to care for their parents, and care facilities are not permitted to seek such personal commitments and…

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