When a parent dies in a nursing home with outstanding medical bills, it’s almost certainly not an adult child's responsibility. Children are only responsible for their parents’ medical expenses if they take an affirmative step to accept that liability, such as becoming a guarantor - meaning you legally take responsibility for their debts.
Responsibility of a Spouse
Spouses are arguably responsible for one another’s support, so the nursing home might have a claim against a spouse, but that’s unusual to see as well.
Filial Responsibility and Nursing Home Contracts
We’ve answered similar questions about parents who pass in nursing homes before, so you are not alone in your experience with the nursing home. Some states have filial responsibility laws, but they are rarely enforced. Learn what to look for in your parent’s nursing home contract, and if you are uncertain about what to do, contact a local elder law attorney for help.
Harry S. Margolis practices elder law, estate, and special needs planning in Boston and Wellesley, Massachusetts. He is the founder of ElderLawAnswers.com and answers consumer questions about estate planning issues here and at AskHarry.info.