December 5, 2010

You May be Legally Responsibile To Provide for Your Elderly Parents

There are unfortunately too many senior citizens living below the poverty line.   Either through their own negligence, or through just bad luck people may hit old age with very little if any savings and a meager fixed income.   Most people will feel an obligation to care for their parents and older relatives out of basic love and kindness.   But if your mother or father squandered all of their money you may not really have much desire to "bail them out" during their retirement.   Whatever the situation, you may be surprised to know that you could be legally required to support impoverished parents.

Thirty states have what are called Filial Responsibility statues.  These laws require people to care for their poor relatives.

States with filial responsibility laws:   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.   Source list of the 30 states.   

The details of the laws vary from state to state but all of them require children to provide necessities for parents who can not do so.

These laws are apparently not enforced often but they can be the basis for lawsuits.   According to this report from ABC news, nursing homes in Pennsylvania have been filing lawsuits going after children of patients with unpaid bills.

Hopefully your parents have planned well financially for their retirement.  

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