Filial Laws Could Hold Adult Children Financially Responsible for Parents’ Long-term Healthcare Costs

Each state has laws known as filial responsibility laws that have the potential to leave a family footing the bill for mom or dad’s long-term healthcare costs. Imagine the surprise. Filial responsibly laws, which haven’t been relied on for quite some time because of other government safety nets provided to seniors, are recently being used again and can hold children legally responsible.1

More and more states are joining the bandwagon and coming after the kids for their parent’s outstanding nursing home debt. There was a court case in nearby Pennsylvania where a judge ordered a man to pay a $93,000 bill incurred by his mother.2

About 30 states have filial laws on the books which basically state that children have a duty to care for their parents. As our longevity increases and health-care costs continue to rise we may see more and more states adopting similar laws.

The court cases can get ugly and not only allow health facilities to recoup money from the parents’ children, but also have siblings battling each other for the responsibility to financially support their parents, such as in the case Eori vs. Eori. This case ruled that each of the three siblings be required to pay $400 a month for their mother’s care.3

Jamie Hopkins, professor of retirement income at the American College of Financial Services made a good point. “even if you don’t have that client that ends up in a nursing-care facility, they’re still going to have end-of-life costs, and if they become indigent or broke…that could have a big impact on all the family members.”4

Many of today’s newly retired will likely have increased lifespans and need some type of care in later years. With more of these cases getting national attention there could be more lawsuits, not only by institutions, but between siblings battling each other to share in the cost of taking care of indigent parents.

There are ways to address the issue of long-term health care costs. Should the burden be on our children to assume this responsibility or should each adult take responsibility for planning for their end-of-life care?

Other cultures think the children are expected to care for their elders without question. In our country, that is often not the general consensus. Many retirees feel that they don’t want to be a burden to their children. There is no right or wrong answer here, but one thing is certain; you need to have the conversation, long before it becomes necessary, to keep the family together.

We can help get the conversation started and discuss all of your options.
Give us a call, we are happy to help. (732)364-5462 or online at

By Kathy Nolan

1 Greg Lacurci, Investment News, Filial laws put kids on the hook for parents’ health care costs,, accessed March 26, 2018
2 Ibid.
3 Ibid.
4 Ibid.

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