Have you considered moving your parent to a nursing home? This is a decision that rarely comes easily. Oftentimes, it begins with adult children noticing mental or physical decline in a parent. This may be followed by a series of difficult discussions with the parent regarding his or her inability to continue living on his or her own and the selection of a facility. By the time the parent is settled in the nursing home, the adult child may feel like they can finally exhale. Unfortunately, despite the multitude of considerations and preparation, which surrounds placing a parent in a nursing home, one concern rarely considered may be whether the adult children will need to pay a parent’s nursing home bill.  

While a novel phenomenon, it can be a real legal possibility and thus, requires serious attention by adult children. There are states that have filial responsibility laws, which can create a legal obligation of adult children for their adult parents. These laws can obligate adult children to cover the cost of their indigent parents’ food, clothing, shelter, and medical expenses. While they were not drafted to create liability for a parent’s nursing home care, they have, in fact, been used to do just that. 

With the average nursing home costing several thousand dollars per month, this may not be a risk to be taken lightly by adult children. A judicious approach may be to meet with a qualified elder law attorney to determine whether the state has filial responsibility laws, which may be applied to them. An elder law attorney can also assist with planning to help assure a parent can afford a nursing home. Oftentimes, this involves Medicaid planning to assist in establishing Medicaid eligibility, which can cover the cost of a nursing home. This can be a complicated process, which may involve the creation of an irrevocable trust to protect family assets. 

While the concept of filial responsibility may seem overwhelming, meeting with an elder law attorney regarding these laws and planning for long-term care can allow the adult child to finally exhale, resting assured that both their parent and their family’s finances are well cared for. For assistance with these matters, please reach out to our office to schedule an appointment.