Could you be legally liable for paying for the care of an elder parent or could your children be held responsible for your care? Under something called Filial Responsibility Laws, you most certainly could.
If you think it sounds far-fetched and it doesn’t happen that often, it’s happening all the time in 30 states. The Filial Responsibility Laws, also referred to as ‘Filial Support’ laws, are extremely old and originated in England when public assistance was limited. Public assistance was only intended for elders who had no family. Families were expected to care for each other and pitch-in for associated costs. When the United States was settled, much of the legal standard the country adopted was based on English law. The Filial Responsibility Laws were part of that body of laws and thus adopted. Of the 30 states invoking the law, each state is permitted to choose how they enforce it which means each state may have a slightly different version. In some states, only the children are responsible for providing care for a parent while other states expand the requirement to include grandchildren! In California, it is a misdemeanor to not comply with the law. In other states, family members can sue other family members to make them contribute to the cost of care.
You are probably curious if your state is among the 30 states enforcing this law. In alphabetical order, they are Alaska, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia. Is your state next?
As the United States aging population grows, the other states will most likely enforce these laws because of the strain on Medicaid budgets. According to the US Census Bureau, the number of Americans 65 or older will double by the year 2030 to over 70 million. If you haven’t been impacted by an aging parent yet, it’s only a matter of when.
How do you protect this from happening in your family? Have the discussion with your parents on how they intend to pay for their long-term care. And, you are never too young to consider this topic yourself. In your planning, you want to consider total liquid assets and current long-term care costs. Presently, the national average of nursing home care is $75,190/yr, assisted living $38,220/yr and home care $28,080/yr. And of course, that could certainly double or triple by the time you need care. If your savings and investments won’t be enough to sustain this ongoing expense for 3-5 years, then considering transferring the risk to an insurance company.
Long-term care insurance pays when you are unable to perform the basic tasks of everyday living on your own for an extended period due to chronic medical, physical or cognitive conditions, or disabling injuries. Some long-term care insurance policies allow you to use the funds to pay a family member to take care of you as well providing for care-giver training. The policies pay for home care and home modifications, assisted living, alternate care, and the nursing home. You can get more information about long-term care from www.longtermcare.gov or contact your local resource at: www.liferesourcesgroup.com
Article written by Grace Gulden, Life Resources Group, LLC.