New Concern About Filial Support Laws Increases Interest in Long-Term Care Planning
Dec 4, 2012
Virginia Beach, VA (Law Firm Newswire) December 3, 2012 – An adult child of an indigent, or financially overburdened parent, may be on the hook for their extraordinary debt.
Though not many individuals are aware of this fact, at least 29 states, as well as Puerto Rico, have laws granting long-term care providers the authority to seek payment from the adult children of a parent to whom a provider renders care.
Katherine Pearson, Professor of Law at the Dickinson School of Law at Penn State University, states that care providers in Pennsylvania and South Dakota are actively pursuing payment from adult children. In Pennsylvania, expenses incurred by a nursing home patient during a six-month stay, which totaled nearly $93,000, were submitted to the patient’s son for payment. The superior court rendered a verdict in favor of the nursing home when the dispute went before the court.
The superior court’s ruling confirmed that the filial support statute provides for a valid method of collection for some creditors. Furthermore, the ruling demonstrated retroactive application, and that the law does not require evidence of fault on the part of an adult child.
Pearson’s research established that parental support laws date back to colonial times, and were set up to ensure a legal obligation of support to family members so as to prevent an unnecessary burden on public resources. At one time, approximately 45 states had some legal requirement for parental support. As Medicaid, a system which has traditionally paid a substantial amount of necessary long-term care costs developed, states began repealing parental support laws. As new restrictions are being implemented on the Medicaid system, more states are looking to recoup their own funds.
“The best suggestion we can give our clients when it comes to protecting their own assets and not burdening their children,” says estate planning attorney Andrew H. Hooks, “is to work with an experienced elder law attorney to look at long-term care options.”
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