January 27, 2006

Filial Responsibility Law - Adult Kids Sued for Care of Parents

Thirty states have filial responsibility laws. Does yours?

Matthew Paluka explains that they are "...statutes that establish a duty for adult children to care for their indigent elderly parents. When enforced, the statutes can require the adult child to reimburse state programs or institutions that have cared for the indigent parent with either a one-time contribution or installment payments."

Paluka explains that in the past, Medicaid practices have curtailed states from requiring adult children to care for their needy, elderly parents - but his report also discusses the amount of Medicaid funding that would be significantly impacted by Filial Responsibility enforcement.

Recent changes in Medicaid legislation, as described at ElderLawAnswers.com, may result in litigation seeking to enforce these filial responsibility statutes, as nursing homes try and find help to cover care costs and expenses that are not covered by the federal government. The forecast involves lawsuits pitting nursing homes against the kids.

Perhaps elderly parents and children should stop and consider their options now. More information in that regard is also provided at ElderLawAnswers.Com.

See also: Filial Responsibility Laws, Medicaid, and Long Term Care Insurance


Anonymous said...

So now people will be encouraged to plan for and pay for the care they need, instead of gicving away their money and going on welfare. Medicaid is welfare, not an entitlement. This will prevent the wealthy from lining up ahead of the poor to get theirs first. Encouraging personal responsibility is a good thing, and the poor will still get care. However, the limit on the "at-home spouse's house at $750,000 means those with million dollar houses will not get Medicaid for nursing homes until they tap that house equity, oh pity the poor millionaire (who chose not to lan, but to collect tax dollars earmarked for the poor)

Anonymous said...

Previous blogger confusued the issue. Spousal responsibilities and laws are slighlty different.

At issue here is parents that may not have planned for thier long-term care. The Filial Responsibility Laws target the middle class. The childeren of elderly adults who are below the poverty line, will not have to pay. Of course many of these people (not all mind you) just gave up on trying to improve their financial position. The rich (truely wealthy > $3mm in total PV after tax assets) are not impacted since they have means. Rather the people that are targeted and severely impacted are the middle class. They have strived and save all of their lives and have 401k and pensions that could be in jeopardy. If you thin about it many parents did not plan for thier LTC costs. Some elderly people linger in nursing homes for 5 to 7 years. This is a real threat tot he middle class! Save your entire life and have it taken by a nursing home.

Thunder said...

Save your entire life and if you don't want to pay the nursing home to take care of your parents, then you should take care of your parents.

Anonymous said...

What if your parent is a sociopath who abused you your whole life? What if she was falling-down drunk when you were a kid and neglected you and made you take care of her and your siblings? What if she stole from you? What if he beat you bl;ack and blue? What if he sexually molested you? Or your kids? Is there anything that recovering abuse victims who have cut off contact with their abusive parents for their own health can do to protect themselves from having to get involved again and exposing themselves and their own children to a sociopathic elderly parent?

Rebecca said...

Hi anonymous,
Your point regarding an abusive and neglectful parent is well taken. It is safe to assume that many such parents will age into the very parents for whom these filial laws will be applied -- since responsible and caring parents are much more likely to plan against becoming their children's responsibilities.

Working with abused and neglected kids in our local CPS courts, trust me that I totally comprehend the horror of a neglected or abused child being required by law to take care of their parents down the road (altho in these cases, lots of parental rights are terminated and that may solve this filial problem for the CPS children).

That being said, is this fair? No. Are the laws the same, state to state? No. Should there be ways to legally protect yourself against this situation? Sure. As an attorney, I'm curious about how that might occur and what is being discussed or implemented in various jurisdictions.

Give me some time, and I'll post what I find.

In the meantime, please feel free to (1) read the other posts here on filial responsbility - see the labels on the right side bar to find them - and (2) to write me with more info, questions, or concerns you may have.

Thanks for this,

Anonymous said...

The abusive parent post is relevant.

But how about a parent that wasn't abusive but now that they are an elderly parent they have the attitude of "my kids owe me therefore I don't have to plan."

I think you'll find that's a more prevalent scenario.

That describes both of my parents. My dad is 67 and does NOT have long term insurance. So my sisters and I have provided information to him so that he can look into getting a LTC policy for himself. Even though he is diabetic and insulin dependent our agent was able to find 2 companies that were willing to consider his application and the monthly premium was around $250/month for him. He told my sister that he felt the premiums were a little too expensive for him.

Before you bleeding hearts out there start crying that we should pay his LTC premiums for him, consider that he owns a luxury pick up truck with all of the bells and whistles, a 17-foot cabin cruiser boat and he also just recently purchased a Porsche and a camper with it's own shower and restroom and he also felt generous enough to gift his used BMW sports car to my sister.

Reba, in all of this whining about "moral responsibility for taking care of elder parents" no one is discussing the fiscal impact of the financially catastrophic effects on the middle class, adult children - THE TAX BASE of this country when these irresponsible Boomers choose not to purchase their LTC plans or plan for their retirement.

You can argue morality all you want but if you financially hurt the middle class, adult children you are also hurting the TAX BASE of this country.

You have a generation of approximately 72 million Boomers, many who do NOT feel any sense of moral obligation to prevent a financial catastrophe and who choose not purchase their own LTC policies or plan for their retirement because they feel their kids "owe them."

My mother has cash flows coming in from her divorce to my dad and is sitting on a homestead property that is very sell able.

And yet, with all of this money she has the audacity to believe that we should bank roll her retirement.

I think this is a way more likely scenario.

Sign me,

44-year old, single mother whose job was outsourced over seas, who gave up her $300K home to get custody of her 2 little girls and prevent them from being moved from state to state

Reba Kennedy said...

Dear 44 year old single mom,

First things first, kudos to you for putting your kids first and fighting for custody.

Second, I understand what you're describing - and I appreciate you bringing this up this issue. When you couple your info with the news coming in these past few weeks about the future of Social Security and Medicare, what you are discussing gets even more serious from a national perspective.

Nevertheless, these filial laws are becoming more and more enticing to many policy makers and legislators.

This week, I downloaded an article discussing the possibility of having kids financially responsible for parents who are incarcerated (think about that one for a minute) as well as another article discussing the viability of a national filial responsibility law.

I'll be posting more on this issue soon.

Thanks for writing, SingleMom. It's appreciated -- and hang in there.

God bless,

CStone said...

Kudos for your perspective of LIVING a life of abundance and frugality.

With over 10,000 baby boomers turning age 65 daily, filial responsibility cases will undoubtedly rise. Experts predict insufficient facilities and caregivers will be available to meet seniors' needs.

That, said, families need to (more than ever) proactively plan for how they will support their senior parents in the future.

Thank you for your uplifting and informational blog!

Anonymous said...

I see where this is headed. First of all, our taxes are what should be paying these bills. Secondly, at the current rates, people will not be able to afford elderly care. The children of the Baby Boomers are facing an environment of dwindling wages. And whatever life savings they do have is going to be devoured if there is a wave of lawsuits in regard to "filial law." This simply represents a government which cannot meet its fiscal obligations. And this specific law gives us a glimpse into how the government will resolve its poor fiscal planning. The answer is to confiscate your wealth. Steal your life savings in order to pay for the obligations that the government makes. This is the stuff that revolutions are made of.