Filial Laws impose responsibility on a third party to cover support for poverty-stricken parents and relatives. The concept is derived from a term called filial piety, which is a key virtue in Chinese culture. This virtue essentially stands for respecting and taking care of elders. In more modern context, these laws allow the states to go after the assets of adult children if their parents were on government assistance. This issue often comes up if there has not been proper planning for long-term care needs.

With baby boomers growing older and living longer, almost 70% of people will need some sort of long-term care in their lifetime. Many people do not have the ability to purchase long-term care insurance, so they rely on their own assets to pay for care until they can qualify for Medicaid.

One of the most recent examples of these laws being enforced happened in Pennsylvania in 2012. In the case of Health Care & Retirement Corporation of America v. Pittas, the court ruled that a son was financially responsible for his mother’s nursing home costs during the 6 months that she spent in the facility. The total debt that the defendant had to pay was $93,000.

Filial Laws in Colorado?

There are currently 30 states in the Union that have Filial Responsibility Laws, but Colorado is not one of them. Just because you live in a state that doesn’t have these laws, doesn’t mean they may not affect you. If your parents live in a state that recognizes Filial Laws (say, California for example), you could still be held responsible for paying for their care.

These laws rarely come into play because there are certain requirements that need to be met for them to apply. One of these requirements is that the plaintiff has to have reasonable belief that the relative they are suing has the means to pay the outstanding bill.

If you or anyone you know is concerned about how to plan for long-term care expenses as part of your overall financial plan, contact Sharkey, Howes & Javer to meet with a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™.

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