Understanding Filial Laws and Long-Term Care

April 18, 2023 - 8:04 pm - 4 min read

Filial Laws: What Are They?

Filial laws, also known as “filial responsibility laws,” have been around since the 1600s when they were introduced in England to ensure that the elderly were taken care of by their children. These laws are based on the idea of filial piety which emphasizes the importance of children respecting, honoring, and caring for their parents.

In the United States, filial laws vary from state to state. Currently, 29 states have filial laws, although they are rarely enforced. Filial laws make it legal for long-term care providers to sue adult children to recover the cost of caring for their aging parents. Adult children can be held financially responsible for their parents’ medical bills, nursing home costs, and other long-term care expenses.

The Basics of Long-Term Care

Long-term care is a range of services and support provided to people who are unable to care for themselves due to aging, chronic illness, or disability. Such care can be provided in various settings such as nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and home care. However, long-term care can be expensive. In fact, most long-term care is paid for out of pocket, which can be a financial strain for many families.

Medicare does not cover long-term care, and Medicaid eligibility is based on the applicant’s income and assets. To qualify for Medicaid, individuals must meet strict income and asset requirements which vary by state. Long-term care insurance is also an option, but premiums can be high, and coverage is limited.

The Connection Between Filial Laws and Long-Term Care

Filial laws and long-term care are closely connected. When elderly parents need long-term care, and they cannot afford it, adult children can be sued under filial laws to cover the costs. If the adult children are unable to pay, they could face wage garnishment, property liens, or even bankruptcy. The result is that filial laws can create a significant financial burden for adult children who are already struggling to make ends meet.

It is essential to note that filial laws are not always enforced. In most cases, they are used as a last resort when the elderly person has exhausted all other financial resources, including Medicaid. However, the existence of filial laws still creates anxiety and fear for adult children who worry about being held financially responsible for their parents’ long-term care costs.

Protecting Yourself from Filial Laws

One way to protect yourself from filial laws is to plan for long-term care in advance. This can involve purchasing long-term care insurance, setting money aside in a savings account for future care needs, and establishing a trust. Consulting with a financial advisor or elder law attorney can help you understand your options and make informed decisions about long-term care planning.

Another way to protect yourself from filial laws is to stay involved in your parent’s care. This can include regularly checking in on them, helping them with activities of daily living, and ensuring they receive appropriate medical care. By staying involved in your parent’s care, you may be able to identify potential long-term care needs early on, allowing you to plan and prepare accordingly.

The Importance of Long-Term Care Planning

Long-term care planning is essential for all adults, regardless of age or health status. None of us know what the future holds, and planning for long-term care can give us peace of mind and financial security. By taking the time to plan ahead, we can ensure that we have access to the care we need when we need it and avoid the potential financial hardships that come with unexpected care needs.

In conclusion, filial laws and long-term care are complex topics that are closely connected. While filial laws are rarely enforced, they do exist and can create significant financial burdens for adult children. Planning for long-term care can help protect us from the potential consequences of filial laws and ensure that we have access to the care we need in our golden years. If you have questions about filial laws or long-term care planning, don’t hesitate to contact a professional for guidance.


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