Filial responsibility laws create a duty to pay for the care of another family member. For children of aging parents this is cause for concern as there is a possibility you could be legally and financially responsible for your parent’s long-term care costs. This scenario could occur even if you were never informed of the need for this type of care and did not agree to be bound by a contract signed by your parent.

At this time, filial responsibility laws exist in over twenty-five states. They can extend the responsibility to pay for long-term care from parents and other relatives to adult children. These laws can be used when nursing homes and long-term care facilities have unpaid patient bills. Under this premise, immediate family members are required to pay for the care that has been provided to the aging parent. For example, when this law was applied in a Pennsylvania case, the adult son found himself liable for over $90,000 of care provided to his mother by a long-term care facility.

Although filial responsibility laws are not yet in place in New York, they are gaining in recognition and attention this legislative session. One of the main reasons is states are attempting to find ways to pay for the high cost of long-term care for our seniors. Unfortunately, in many states that have these laws in place, an adult child could be liable for a bill totaling thousands of dollars, and could be sued if payment was not made timely.

It is never too early to plan for how you and your aging parents will pay for long-term care. Depending on the level of care needed, location and services provided, long-term care facility costs can run anywhere from $3,500.00 a month to over $10,000.00 per month. Pre-planning can help you and your parents discuss how you will be able to afford this care and start to identify government programs to help defray these costs. For example, if your parent is a veteran with active military service during wartime, he or she may be eligible to receive a non-service connected disability pension through the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Your parent may also be able to qualify for the Medicaid program. Medicaid will pay a portion of the costs of your parent’s skilled nursing facility bill when specific eligibility criteria are met. It is important for you to plan as early as possible with your parents and your elder law attorney as many planning options are only available five years before long-term care qualification is needed. There are still planning alternatives available after the five year period has passed but there are not as many when you need to plan in a crisis.

It is never too early to begin planning for long-term care. We work with adult children and their parents each day in developing a plan to cover the high cost of these facilities. As the topic of filial responsibility is again raised throughout the nation, we are reminded that we need to plan ahead for how we can best protect ourselves and our parents. Don’t wait to contact us through our website or call us at (607) 962-6162 about the elder law planning you need to help you and your parent.