Is my Mom responsible for Dad’s nursing home bill?

Q: My dad was in a nursing home and passed away. My mom received a bill saying that she owed $1500 for my dad’s stay in the nursing home. This was over a year ago. (White Oak, PA)

A: This used to be an easy question to answer. In the past, if the community spouse, in this case your mother, never signed the bill as a guarantor, and an estate was not opened for your father, I would say, no. However, many states, including your beloved Commonwealth, have passed “filial” responsibility statutes which hold spouses and next of kin responsible for the medical bills of an indigent person. I would hold off on paying it, exhaust all insurance coverage options, and let them explain to you why your mother owes this bill. If necessary, consult with an elder law attorney in your area.