If your parents are growing older, the cost of their care can continue to increase. The care needs for elderly adults may extend far beyond going to medical appointments and may include such things as staying in assisted living facilities, receiving care in skilled nursing facilities, or living in long-term nursing care facilities. All of these different types of care can cost substantial amounts of money. In some cases, you may be held to be responsible for their debts if your parents run out of funds to pay for their own care. The staff at Elder Care Direction can help you to plan for your loved ones’ care and help you to identify ways to pay for it so that you might avoid being liable for their debts.
What is filial responsibility?
Filial responsibility is the idea that adult children should be responsible for caring for their elderly parents. The idea is rooted in the 16th century, and many states have filial responsibility laws on the books, including Pennsylvania. However, these laws are generally not enforced.
Most people want to leave an inheritance to their children. There is a law in Pennsylvania that could instead mean that parents leave their children saddled with substantial debt. This law is known as the state’s filial responsibility law, and it requires children, spouses, and parents of people who are indigent to financially assist and care for them.
Two court cases in Pennsylvania dealt with this law. Eori v. Eori involved one sibling of three who sued the others because he was paying for all of his mother’s care without help from his siblings. The court ruled for the plaintiff, finding that the other two siblings were liable to pay for their mother’s support needs under the state’s law. In Health Care & Retirement Corp. of America v. Pittas, a man was required to pay $93,000 for his mother’s nursing home care debt. These cases demonstrate the importance of careful planning so that family members are not left struggling under the weight of heavy debt.
Exceptions to the law
There are a few exceptions to the law on filial responsibility. Children who are not financially able to support their parents will not be liable to pay for their care. Children of indigent parents who have been abandoned by the parents for at least 10 consecutive years when the children were minors are also not required to pay the bills. In most cases, parents who cannot pay for nursing home care can apply to Medicaid for help. However, if Medicaid is delayed, denied, or incomplete, the filial responsibility law may be an issue.
Importance of care planning
The filial responsibility law in Pennsylvania demonstrates the importance of planning for your long-term care needs or those of your loved one well in advance of when they might be needed. If your parent has a low income and will be unlikely to be able to afford his or her care, it is important for you and your parent to engage in Medicaid planning. With advanced planning, it is possible to make certain that your loved one will qualify for Medicaid when the time comes that he or she will need to be placed in a nursing home or assisted living facility.
If your loved one already needs care, it is important for you to get help with completing the applications for Medicaid. If you make mistakes on the application, the Medicaid may be denied or delayed, exposing you to liability under Pennsylvania’s filial responsibility law. To learn more and to get help, call Elder Care Direction today.