Are You Responsible for Your Parent’s Care?
In some sense, most of us feel emotionally or culturally responsible for taking care of our aging parents
in both a physical and financial sense; however, did you know that you may be legally responsible for
their care as well? If you did not know that then you are not alone—most people are not aware that
they may have a legal responsibility to provide financial care to a parent. This legal obligation stems
from state filial responsibility laws.
Filial responsibility laws currently exist in over half of all American states. The remaining states may
consider enacting a filial responsibility law in the years to come considering the financial burden that
elderly care is putting on state resources. A filial responsibility law is a law that imposes a legal
responsibility on an adult child to care for an indigent parent. In practice, what does this mean? It means
that a nursing home, long-term care facility, home healthcare provider, or even the state itself could
come after you for a bill at some point. That’s what happened in a recent Pennsylvania case where the
court ultimately decided that an adult son was responsible for a $93,000 nursing home bill left behind by
his mother when she died.
Most filial responsibility laws have been around for some time but were little used. Given the strain that
care of the elderly is putting on state economies, courts are dragging up those laws and using them with
more frequency. Some laws even allow a court to send someone to jail for violation of the law; however,
a more likely outcome is to find yourself suddenly responsible for a hefty nursing home or long-term
The good news in all of this is that there are ways to prevent finding yourself in court facing a filial
responsibility lawsuit. With careful estate planning, you may be able to protect your estate assets and
provide quality care for your parents. Using irrevocable trusts, asset protection trusts and careful
Medicaid planning can significantly decrease the chance of finding yourself suddenly responsible for a
huge bill after a parent dies. Take the time now to talk to your estate planning attorney before it is too
late to plan accordingly.
Experienced estate planning attorneys St. Louis MO of the Purcell and Amen, Attorneys at Law – Your
Estate Matters, LLC offers estate planning and business planning resources to residents of St. Louis MO.
To learn more about these free resources, please visit http://www.yourestatematters.com today.