PA Court Enforces Filial Responsibility Law; It Could Happen in California Too

9:16 pm Asset Protection, Estate Planning

hands old young e1337116539659 PA Court Enforces Filial Responsibility Law; It Could Happen in California TooIn a decision handed down last week, a Pennsylvania appeals court found a son liable for his mother’s $93,000 nursing home bill under that state’s filial responsibility law.

Currently, 30 states have filial responsibility laws on the books, and California is one of them.  The California Family Code Sec. 4400 reads:

Except as otherwise provided by law, an adult child shall, to the extent of his or her ability, support a parent who is in need and unable to maintain himself or herself by work.

While these cases are still fairly rare, more may be coming to the fore because of The Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, which made it more difficult for the elderly to qualify for Medicaid long-term care coverage.  This federal rule change has resulted in more nursing homes using filial responsibility laws to pay the bills, as in the recent Pennsylvania case cited above (Health Care & Retirement Corp. of America v. Pittas) .

If you have an elderly parent who is financially dependent on you – or could become so – you may want to consider the following:

Estate planning.  If you have an aging parent who is financially dependent on you, they should all have at least a simple estate plan.  Even if you have to pay for it, taking this step can save you in terms of probate or litigation.

Asset protection planning for Medicare/Medicaid assistance.  This can help a parent who may need extensive Medicare/Medicaid coverage avoid losing their assets to the state, but you need to do it now – this must be done at least five years before the need arises.

Life insurance.  Look into purchasing life insurance for elderly parents; the benefits could be used to pay final long-term care bills.

Long-term care coverage.  If you have elderly parents who count on you for care, buying long-term care coverage may help reduce what can be a substantial cost.

Review elderly parents’ health care coverage.  Review your elderly parents’ health care coverage and fill the gaps so your own financial future is not impacted by unexpected costs.

Contact us today for individualized planning strategies to meet your unique needs.

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