If You Have An Elderly Parent Going To Assisted Living Or A Nursing Home, You Need To Know About Filial Responsibility Laws

Law Blog

If you have an elderly parent who will move to an assisted living facility or a nursing home in the near future, you could be hit with a bill for their care at some point. It's called filial responsibility law and 29 states have it. If you fail to pay the bill, you could be faced with a lawsuit. However, filial responsibility can be avoided with proper planning. Here's what you need to know. 

What is filial responsibility law? 

Filial responsibility law requires that children of indigent parents are responsible for the medical bills of their parents, which can include the costs of assisted living facilities and nursing homes, depending on the state. An indigent person is someone who does not have the financial means to take care of themselves and their bills. Costs of assisted living facilities average $3,628 a month and nursing homes average $6,844 a month for a private room. If a parent does not have the financial ability to pay those types of charges or they don't have insurance to cover the costs, the bill will go to their child(ren). 

What if you cannot pay? 

If you do not have the financial means to pay the bill either, you may be able to also declare yourself as indigent. To do so, you would need to seek the counsel of a lawyer who specializes in elder law and/or estate planning. However, the threshold of being deemed as indigent in this situation is very low. If there's a case brought against you for your parent's bills and you are not found indigent by the court, you may be able to set up a payment plan with the facility to handle the debt. However, it's better to be prepared ahead of time with estate planning. 

What can be done through estate planning? 

One of the first ways a facility will attempt to get a payment is through your parent's estate, particularly from the equity in their real estate property. Your parent should not make the mistake of giving a large gift, such as the deed to their home or a large sum of money, to you or a sibling before they go to a facility. Doing either of these things could appear as fraud and cause long-term care insurance coverage to be denied. Instead, consult with an estate planning lawyer as soon as possible regarding estate planning, such as setting up a trust fund with any money your parent has coming in, such as their pension and any investments they may have. 

For more information, talk to a firm like Christena Silvey Coleman CSC Law, LLC.


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