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Filial Responsibility Laws

Posted: Sat Aug 09, 2014 7:58 am
by Ego ... term-care/
However, as more of the Baby Boomer generation reaches their golden years, and as many nursing homes and local governments are faced with providing care to a growing number of indigent elderly patients, there’s a possibility that other states will look more closely at their filial support statutes in an attempt to find another way to fund mom’s or dad’s nursing home bill. ... ility_laws

States are beginning to use these laws. The Boomers last kick?

Re: Filial Responsibility Laws

Posted: Sat Aug 09, 2014 4:57 pm
by C40
I haven't read this, but saw this thread title on Reddit this morning:

PSA: Certain states have filial support laws that legally require you to pay for your parent's (or adult childrens') medical expenses. I'm in PA and my mother's nursing home is suing my husband (33m) and I (35f) for $500,000. ... laws_that/

Re: Filial Responsibility Laws

Posted: Sat Aug 09, 2014 8:11 pm
by Ego
In my mind this is probably the largest threat to the nest-egg everyone here is building.

In the last two weeks two of our tenants moved into assisted living facilities. One of the kids told me the facility where her mom was moving charged $6750 per month for a studio apartment, three meals, laundry, assistance dressing/grooming, a skilled nurse on call and group activities. Additional care can be purchased at an additional expense. Their mom was paying it out of what remained from the proceeds of her home sale.

In the past 1 in 4 seniors ended up in a nursing home. That doesn't include other forms of assisted living or in-home care. Not too long ago charitable organizations ran many of the nursing homes and provided most of these in-home services. Think meals-on-wheels and other volunteer services to take people grocery shopping or to the hair dresser. Today they are being replaced by for-profit companies. Some of the services are only partially covered by medicare.

The way I've seen it unfold is the senior gets a medical condition and the doctor prescribes in-home care and support services. The family accepts the diagnosis and recommendations without question. If there are resources and the patient is willing to pay the bills then the doctor piles on the care (they must have some incentive to do so?). When the financial resources get close to zero the kids get nervous but then Medicare takes over some of the services and they calm down. Then eventually the senior needs more care and is moved to a facility but they have zero resources to pay for those things not covered by Medicare. That's where I lose track of them.

Twenty years ago my grandmother who required specialized care as she neared the end got that care from a facility that took the title to her home in exchange. She still owned the home because my parents cared for her up to the move-in point. Had she received the costly in-home care that is normal today, the house would have been gone and then what?

I see this as a trend. For-profit institutions are not going to forgive debts in the same way the charitable institutions do. They are now beginning to pursue the deep pockets. We are the deep pockets. The laws they need to do it are already in place.

If our parents were still alive I would get together with my siblings / in-laws and talk about these things. I would plan ahead and agree to question the decisions of the doctors. I would be prepared to ask if there are free or less expensive options with the goal of preserving resources for future needs. It would be very uncomfortable to do so because it would appear that I was trying to preserve an inheritance. That's why it is important to agree beforehand.

Also, as JennyPenny said in another thread, it is important to agree with your spouse the extent to which you are willing to help and expose yourself to liability.

Re: Filial Responsibility Laws

Posted: Sun Aug 10, 2014 8:55 am
by jennypenny
This whole concept makes my head explode. How can you be financially responsible for people over whom you have no control?

Would this responsibility apply to siblings?

If I ever visit my in-laws in the hospital or a nursing home, I'm going to dress like a bum and drive our oldest car so I don't give the impression that we have deep pockets. I'm not really kidding.

Re: Filial Responsibility Laws

Posted: Sun Aug 10, 2014 10:39 am
by Sclass
This is a huge issue in my life. I stayed away from this subject in the past. Today I thought it has a lot of relevance to ERE folks.

I'm facing elder care issues with my parents. Dad is mentally there and a control freak. Mom has severe dementia. They want me to help but dad wants to control assets. He tempts the kids with inheritance payouts to maintain control. I've told him to keep his MFing money and hence lost out to my TARP siblings. What he doesn't realize is ERE people don't like being controlled with money. We detest it!

But the TARPsters insist it is I who should attend to all the emergencies because I don't work and they cannot take time off work to take mom to the doctor. They also tell me to direct the home caregiver and keep after her when she gets lazy.

I never spoke about it here because I was in denial that this is related to ERE. I was wrong. It has a ton to do with ERE and anybody who wants to be financially free.

My black sheep nature got me off any power of attorney list or payout list on my parents books. That's fine. I'm free and nobody owns me right?

Wrong! My financially weak siblings who hang around begging for a bone get the perks and supposed responsibility right? No.

No, the same losers expect me to help out because I'm "not doing anything".

Even my MFing dad says I can help because I don't have to hold a job like my siblings. What he doesn't seem to understand is I'm free because I like freedom. I refuse to live in bondage.

I'm put on a guilt trip because I've refused to pound a single nail into a house that will be willed to somebody else. The investor in me just cannot allow that kind of thing.

I'm sure there are others here in different stages of this problem.

Thanks Ego, good to know I may be legally on the hook for all this.

Re: Filial Responsibility Laws

Posted: Sun Aug 10, 2014 10:56 am
by chenda
It strikes me as legally unique as its creating a liability on a specific person despite them doing nothing, through the use of an archaic and hitherto dormant law.

That said, care for elderly relatives is going to be a key issue for people. Even without these laws most people are going to feel some responsibility for them, and the financial costs can be huge.

Re: Filial Responsibility Laws

Posted: Sun Aug 10, 2014 11:27 am
by RealPerson
This actually happened to my mom. Even though she was estranged from her parents. She did not even know her father was in a nursing home. She was shocked by the letter demanding money. She basically told them that she was not going to pay, so she would see them in court. Nothing came of it. I think the nursing home felt it would be too costly to collect the money, so they backed down.

Still, this is a huge risk. A liability you cannot control. These laws are fair if there was a fraudulent transfer of assets from the parent to the child, in order to avoid paying. But in the absence of such fraud? I guess the only defense would be strong asset protection. This course of action is too complex and expensive for most ERE people.

@JP. I like your idea, but I think discovery of assets is a fairly simple thing. Maybe slip in their hallway and claim you hurt your back, so that you have a claim against the nursing home.

Re: Filial Responsibility Laws

Posted: Sun Aug 10, 2014 11:31 am
by Devil's Advocate
S Class : I sympathize with your situation (for what that's worth). As long as you're standing on your own two feet, without leaning on others, you really shouldn't let others guilt you up. "They" expect such and such, do they? So let them. What's that to you, as long as your heart is untroubled with what you're doing or not doing?

When people "expect" me to do stuff because I'm no longer a wage slave, and they "can't take time off from work", I sometimes ask them : Why can't you? Do they keep you tied up there? Will they whip you and torture you if you take the day off? Don't say you *can't*, say instead you *won't*, because you prefer the money etc. Also : I was making many TIMES what you're making, so my time is worth that many times yours! Perhaps you could try either of those lines on them?

Ego, Jenny : I agree, *legislating* this stuff does border on "evil", and does make the stomach turn. Reprehensible is the word.

Re: Filial Responsibility Laws

Posted: Sun Aug 10, 2014 11:40 am
by Devil's Advocate
All that (my post above) said, I have to say : they're your *parents*! Unless they've been prime a-holes throughout (as some parents indeed are), don't you think you have some, not duty, not responsibility, but some *need* to take care of them? To do something for them? To do a lot for them? To do everything you possibly can for them?

Re: Filial Responsibility Laws

Posted: Sun Aug 10, 2014 12:09 pm
by Ego
My head exploded too. There is a lot of good information in the link below including the states with these laws and the statutes. ... 162511.htm

I found the last comment useful.
Pennsylvania recently forced one son to cover his mother's nursing home bills, a whopping $93,000 even though the son had siblings. The court and nursing home decided the son had the means, so they went after him, and only him even though the nursing home was supposed to have filed for Medicaid and it was in the process of being approved. The mother died before Medicaid was approved, so the son was "stuck" with the bill. I don't know all the details, as that has not been released to the public, but apparently the son signed his mother into the facility so that's the reason MERP (Medicaid Expenses Recovery Program) went only after him. So, please, be very careful what you sign.

Also, if you have Durable Power of Attorney, this gets sticky as you are legally your mother's legal representative, so beware. Make sure you take the nursing home contract to a lawyer to be sure that you won't be held accountable.
Sclass, as far as I can tell California has not enforced it but they are keeping it on the books for some reason. Sadly, from what I've seen, stories like yours are the norm. The frustration I've witnessed here from the children of my tenants has been heartbreaking. Interestingly, the kids who seem to me to the least miserable are the ones who are the most brutally direct with their parents.

Re: Filial Responsibility Laws

Posted: Sun Aug 10, 2014 1:06 pm
by jacob
From an overall perspective, this really emphasizes the importance of keeping your eye on the ball; why it's impossible to predict the future; why the future might be very different from today wrt to finances and cultural values.

Also, why it's important to diversify your value-generation. I keep harping on the fact that it's smart to render yourself independent not just from earning but also from spending.

---That the idea of using a high income job to save a ton of money with the intention of relying utterly on just that one income stream to buy a middle-class life and that it can be done simply with a fire-and-forget financial strategy of doing the same thing as everyone else.

I cringe every time I see this in one of the journals, but I also know it's not up to me to make other people's decisions and that I can't convince anyone either way. People can only convince themselves, but examples like this is a good reminder not create a giant egg, put it in a basket, and expect that it'll still be there 60 years from now because nobody will try to take it.

Re: Filial Responsibility Laws

Posted: Sun Aug 10, 2014 2:29 pm
by jennypenny
@D_A--I agree that I have a duty to my family to make sure their needs are met. I have done that in the past for relatives (parents, siblings, nieces/nephews, etc) and would gladly do so in the future. I couldn't let anyone go without food or shelter or basic medical care.

That said, I'm not going to be responsible for paying for someone's McMansion-level assisted living arrangement while I'm making my own laundry soap. I don't want to be responsible for someone else's poor choices. I have a sibling that smokes and drinks daily even though he's already had a heart attack. Should I be on the hook for some failed bypass attempt in 10-20 years because he chose not to take care of his health?

@RealPerson--I guess I'm thinking of cases where decisions are being made. If I go with the in-laws to check out assisted living places, I don't want the place selling them an overpriced package that includes weekly massages and mani/pedi's because I look like I can pay the bill if and when the in-laws can't. Same with medical decisions that are costly and probably wouldn't do any good.


This scares me. Where would it stop? Do I have to pay for expensive medical care for someone who never took care of their health? How about poor financial choices? Foreclosures? Judgments? Gambling debts? Legal costs if they drive into a crowd of people because they're too old to drive but you weren't able to convince them to stop driving? Liability to those victims?

Re: Filial Responsibility Laws

Posted: Sun Aug 10, 2014 2:39 pm
by jacob
It reminds me of the "no taxation without representation"-argument. If I'm going to be taxed for someone else's bad choices, I'd prefer to have some say in those choices to avoid the worst ones.

We're back to politics, but now on a family level.

On a larger scale, it used to be normal to be expected to take care of one's parents. A hundred years ago, that is. Now we have this social contract of finance wherein one is supposed pay oneself and failing that, the government is supposed to step in. Since the government won't or can't, people are falling back on vestigial laws to make the family do it again. This breaks the existing social contract and so people are up in arms. Figuratively. Maybe literally.

Re: Filial Responsibility Laws

Posted: Sun Aug 10, 2014 3:26 pm
by almostthere
I think I would just like to know at what point my parents no longer had the money to pay and before they incurred costs that could be my responsibility. I could then take a reasonable decision.

In my current country of residence, every day when I take a walk, I see the same one or two elderly people in the park being pushed in their wheel chairs by their full time care giver. I would imagine the cost of the full time care giver is about US$3500 to $4000/ year. I have repeatedly told my parents that may be their future too.

Re: Filial Responsibility Laws

Posted: Sun Aug 10, 2014 4:55 pm
by Tyler9000
I apparently do not live in a state with filial responsibility laws, but if I did I would consider moving to one without them.

I would never let my family suffer, but I am strongly against the state being allowed to make that judgment for me.

Re: Filial Responsibility Laws

Posted: Sun Aug 10, 2014 7:18 pm
by BennKar
For my GF & me, we only have one living parent, unfortunately she does live in PA. I'm not too worried about this, but perhaps I should as its my mother and I am an only child. Note that retirement accounts (401, 403, 457) are almost always creditor proof (IRAs are not as bullet-proof), so this is a big argument for keeping money in one of these accounts in this type of situation if possible / practical. I know it will be in the back of my mind should she need nursing care (if she is like her mother, it will be another 20 years until its needed).

Re: Filial Responsibility Laws

Posted: Sun Aug 10, 2014 9:27 pm
by RealPerson
Since Jacob brought up politics.....Isn't this the same as me having to pay taxes to pay for the welfare checks or foodstamps for people who have spent a lifetime making poor decisions?

Of course most people would support their families in times of need. But what about a higher priced nursing home than you think is reasonable? It is the lack of choice of level of expense, and being forced to pay rather than choosing to pay that is so irritating.

@Sclass: I am sorry that you have such a shitty family situation. This issue is especially irritating given your circumstances.

Re: Filial Responsibility Laws

Posted: Sun Aug 10, 2014 10:11 pm
by Ego
RealPerson wrote:Of course most people would support their families in times of need. But what about a higher priced nursing home than you think is reasonable? It is the lack of choice of level of expense, and being forced to pay rather than choosing to pay that is so irritating.
This goes along with Jenny's question in the Global Population thread. It is theoretical when we're talking about the government paying the bill for someone who is being kept alive indefinitely by enormously expensive artificial means. When faced with the possibility that we might personally be required to write those checks to keep the pumps pumping because someone we love is refusing to allow the plug to be pulled.... suddenly it gets very real. Most people would support their families and many will never have to test the limits of that support. As medical technology improves it increases the likelihood that those limits will be tested.

Re: Filial Responsibility Laws

Posted: Mon Aug 11, 2014 5:09 am
by jennypenny
I'm sorry that my post was so cranky. It's just so frustrating to think that the people who made fun of my lifestyle choices my entire life could reach out from the grave and tap into my savings.

I agree that it's like taxes that pay for other's poor choices, but at least with taxes there is a limit. We joke that we're getting a bargain with our FICA and Medicare taxes considering how many of our relatives those taxes will support someday.

Re: Filial Responsibility Laws

Posted: Mon Aug 11, 2014 10:58 am
by Tyler9000
@Jennypenny: No need to apologize. Someone reaching for your wallet with a sense of entitlement has a way of making everyone cranky. Throw in some family dynamics, and that's a recipe for pain.