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Unmanageable debt from a different source in Pennsylvania

An individual stricken with an unexpected medical condition could easily end up with unmanageable debt. This is particularly true when the illness leaves the person unable to work.

Mounting medical expenses from doctors and hospital bills for operations may leave a person struggling and in need of debt relief. More unsettling for a person is having unmanageable debt that belongs to someone else.

Pennsylvania is among only a few states that enforces claims against adult children for the medical expenses of their parents. The concept of making a child responsible for care provided to their adult parents by third parties is based on old legal principles that are rarely enforced today.

Residents of Allegheny County could find themselves burdened by unmanageable debt belonging to their parents. Health care providers, such as doctors and nursing homes, must prove that the parents are unable to pay before they can seek payment from the children.

The threat of taking on someone else’s medical debt is not one that is generally enforced by the courts. Legislators in Pennsylvania are considering changes in the law to eliminate the risk of children being held for the hospital bills and other medical debts of their parents, but a change in the law would have no effect on individuals who are struggling with unmanageable debt of their own.

Advice on debt elimination and filing for bankruptcy should be sought from an attorney by anyone in need of debt relief. The legal advice and guidance of the attorney might provide answers to debt elimination questions.

Source: Nerdwallet, “Broke Parents? When Their Medical Debts Could Be Yours,” Spencer Tierney, July 2, 2015

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