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.
Q: My husband and I lived in this home over twenty years. He passed away in 2016. His named is the only one on the deed and I I’m trying to get it in my name so I can refinance it. What do I do? (Forest Hills, PA)
A: If your husband had a will and left the house to you, or everything in his estate to you, you need to file the will and open an estate. As Executor, you can easily transfer the house to yourself unless it is an insolvent estate or there is a mortgage in which case you will need approval of the mortgagee. If there was no will and you have children, or he has children from a prior relationship, PA intestate law dictates who inherits and it would be you and the children. The best case for you is if you are sole heir in his will or there is no will and no children, there is no mortgage and sufficient cash in the estate to pay the expenses. Make an appointment with an estate attorney.