Not responsible for your parent’s debts? Filial responsibility laws may disagree!

Presented by Leonard Berthelsen

Many times we have a notion that we know how something should turn out, only to find out that the complete opposite is true.

Filial responsibility laws are in place in 30 states in our country today. What is the Filial responsibility law? It basically makes an adult child responsible for the care debts of an ailing parent who cannot afford to pay for their care. We all thought that was what Medicaid was for, right?

It is no longer enough for a person to have limited assets in order to qualify for Medicaid but apparently their adult children as well. Take a look at a Pennsylvania case that involved an ailing parent whose son was sued by the nursing home even before Medicaid had made a decision on the applicant’s eligibility. The courts ruled that by the mere fact of having a Filial responsibility law in place, the nursing home didn’t need to wait for a decision from Medicaid and could choose any or all of the adult children to be the responsible party for their parent’s bill. This potential liability should move more of our clients to reconsider long-term care insurance.

We have talked as an industry for years that it makes good sense for adult children to have that conversation with their parents about their wishes and finances concerning long-term care issues. I think the urgency is a little stronger now in light of what we are starting to see happen.

Long-term care insurance is still the best protection for a parent wanting to maintain choices and flexibility. It now has become even more important for the adult children to have that conversation with their parents and even consider paying the premiums for their parent’s policy. It could save them a tremendous amount of money in the long run.

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