Filial support laws exist in 29 states as well as Puerto Rico and have quietly existed on the books for a long time. Now, however, these laws are a very real and present concern for the adult children of elderly loved ones.
Essentially, filial support is the legally-imposed financial responsibility whereby children are responsible for their aging parents. The origins of filial support are found in some pretty old laws and lines of legal reasoning. History aside, consider filial support the flip-side of the legally-imposed financial responsibility parents owe to young children.
Nevertheless, in a modern context with the massive escalation of healthcare costs, some see a dangerous pattern emerging. This is most dramatically evident when it comes to the costs of long-term care. So are you at risk?
These are state laws. However, you might be liable if an elderly loved one resides in one of these states even if you do not. Does this have your attention?
Fortunately, Forbes has provided a crash course regarding filial laws and their potential challenges in an article titled “Who Will Pay For Mom's Or Dad's Nursing Home Bill? Filial Support Laws And Long-Term Care.”
Be sure to read the original article and, perhaps, do a little online research yourself. If nothing else, find out which states have filial support laws. (Spoiler warning: as of this writing, Hawaii has no filial support law, and our legislature does not appear to be getting on the bandwagon for the 2014 legislative session.) As the Forbes article points out, however, you should not get cocky if you do not live in a filial support state. That's because you need not be present to get wacked. As long as your parent lives in one of the listed states, you are at risk of being liable.