Did you know there is a possibility you could one day be responsible for an aging parent’s long-term care costs?  Filial responsibility is the legal and financial responsibility of a third party to pay for another’s unpaid expenses. Although it has only been enforced in a handful of states, over twenty-five states have these laws in place. Experts agree that as our states look for ways to pay for the long-term care costs for an increasing senior population, filial responsibility laws may gain traction.


What Is filial responsibility? How could it potentially impact you and your aging parents? Let us share the critical information about filial responsibility laws you need to know to help you plan.


1. The most common form of filial responsibility is the financial duty a child owes to a parent. If a parent is in need of long-term healthcare but cannot afford to pay, an adult child may become legally responsible. The Pittas case from Pennsylvania gives us a clear example of how this law could be used.


2. Filial responsibility laws are in place in over twenty-five states. While not all states have these laws, many do. With these laws in place, this responsibility could be assessed under certain circumstances and other states could seek to add these laws creating similar responsibilities.


3. The degree of responsibility varies from state to state. For example, in Arkansas, adult children are only responsible for paying for mental health care. In Connecticut, the law only applies to parents who are younger than 65. However, in other states there is full responsibility of costs for adult children over parents.


4. You can be sued if you do not pay the bill. Even if the bill comes without notice, these laws can give long-term care facilities the ability to sue if you do not pay. In this instance, and all elder care law scenarios, it is crucial for you and your parents to work with an attorney to plan for this potential issue as early as possible.


5. A Pennsylvania case reversed precedent and made the enforcement of filial responsibility laws a new trend. Prior to 2012, filial responsibility laws were rarely enforced. However, in Health Care & Retirement Corporation of America v. Pittas (May 7, 2012), the Pennsylvania Superior Court upheld a decision to make an adult son liable for a $93,000 nursing home debt.


If enacted and enforced, filial responsibility laws could have a tremendous impact on Florida seniors and their children. One of the best ways to plan ahead is to work with your elder care law attorney to discuss strategies and ways to pay for long-term care early. Do you have questions? You may contact us for more information.