If my mother-in-law is being sued by her former retirement home, can her children be held financially responsible for her debt?

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If my mother-in-law is being sued by her former retirement home, can her children be held financially responsible for her debt?

Her late husband and her agreed to move into the retirement home but didn’t have the entire amount of funds needed, however the retirement home let them come anyway and told her they would work out some kind of loan arrangement. The letter from the retirement home now states she is responsible for the entire amount and if she can not afford to pay it back, her children are responsible for her debt. Is that true that in some sates children are responsible for their parents debt? By the way, mother-in-law is on social security and owns nothing, barely able to survive month-to-month.

Asked on June 11, 2015 under Bankruptcy Law, Virginia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

No, that NOT true, unless the children guaranteed her debt or otherwise agreed (such as in some form they signed with the retirement home) to be responsible for her debt. One adult is not responsible for another's debts or obligations (other than a spouse's, in some circumstances), even a parent's or child's debts or obligations, unless they agree to it. Familial relationship, by itself, does not make a child responsible for his or her parent's debt.


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