Many of us do not realize that one day soon we will need to deal with long term care for ourselves or a loved one.  Some laws require adult children to pay for long-term care bills their parents run up. Either the government or non-government providers of care can use the laws. I believe these laws will increase in future years by states and long-term care facilities that need the cash.  If found liable under the laws, an adult child’s wages can be garnished and liens can be filed against property.

Right now, Medicaid (not Medicare) has a reimbursement provision that applies to the Estate. Federal law requires states to try to collect money Medicaid spent on long-term care, even when a person qualified for Medicaid when the care was delivered and fraud isn’t suspected. The money can be collected from the estate of the person whose care was paid for by Medicaid. Most states seek payment from the estate primarily when it had exempt assets when Medicaid was applied for. Exempt assets aren’t counted in determining the person’s eligibility for Medicaid.

Filial responsibility laws were at issue in the seminal 2012 Pennsylvania court case, Health Care & Retirement Corp. of America v. Pittas which allowed a nursing home to sue a son for his mother’s care at the facility despite no allegations of wrongdoing or fraud by the son or that he guaranteed her care.

Some nursing homes reportedly have improperly started sending letters demanding children or other relatives of residents to pay. The children are advised that to avoid personal responsibility they need to either see that the bills are paid or that the parent enrolls in Medicaid. However, this is often untrue, Filial duty laws apply only under certain special circumstances. For example, the parent must be indigent or otherwise unable to support himself or herself. A child who is financially unable to provide support doesn’t have to pay for a parent’s care. The child also doesn’t have to pay if there is evidence of neglect or abuse by the parent before the child became an adult.



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