Are You Responsible for Your Parentís 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 aloneómost 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.Thatís 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 care bill.
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.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: David Purcell
Experienced estate planning attorneys St. Louis MO of the Purcell and Amen, Attorneys at Law Ė Your Estate Matters, LLC offers estate planning and business planning resources to residents of St. Louis MO.
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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.