Filial Responsibility: Are Children Responsible for Their Parents’ Long-Term Care?


Safe Harbor Law Firm

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Posted on

Aug 23, 2023


Florida - Southwest

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Filial Responsibility Laws, also known as Filial Support Laws, are relatively unknown. More than half of US states (including Puerto Rico) could hold adult children financially responsible for their parents’ long-term care. If your parents live in one of the following states, you could be held legally responsible for their healthcare: Alaska, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia.

At one point, 45 US states had statutes that left adult children responsible for their parents’ nursing home care. After Medicaid was established in 1965, many states repealed these laws. The filial law system was adopted from England’s “Poor Laws”, a set of social measures meant to support low income citizens that could not afford care. Medicaid and Social Security helped to reduce the need for these laws.

While filial laws are rarely enforced, the rising cost of healthcare and longer life expectancies increase the likelihood of elderly individuals outliving their savings, which could rekindle these laws’ implementation. If your parents live in a state with filial responsibility laws and they start to accumulate healthcare bills they cannot afford, the provider may be within their rights to sue you for payment, and win. Some states can even extend criminal penalties to children who deny covering care. For example, according to North Carolina law, refusal to support your parents could result in a Class 2 misdemeanor that could earn you up to 120 days in jail.

If a parent becomes eligible for Medicaid, then the government will pay for nursing home care in most cases, and these laws become irrelevant. The Medicaid Estate Recovery Program (MERP) will sometimes try to recover the cost through the recipient’s estate after death. However, Medicaid does not require that adult children contribute directly to their parents’ care. In cases where the child and parent share assets, such as joint bank accounts or jointly owned real estate, the state may take action against these assets when trying to recover long-term care costs.

The best way to avoid issues with these laws is to get involved with your parents’ financial planning to ensure they have a plan to pay for long-term care themselves. An estate planning and elder law attorney can help create a plan to protect your parents’ assets while alleviating you of your filial responsibility. It is also important for families to consult with an attorney when applying for Medicaid or when beginning to plan Medicaid strategies, such as changing asset ownership or spending down assets.

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Medicaid for Nursing Home Care

Elders need more attention and care compared to others. The healthcare cost has skyrocketed, and it has become a financial burden on the individuals who want to avail of it. In such conditions, Medicaid for nursing home care becomes the best option for seniors to access the vital support they require.What is Medicaid for Nursing Home Care?Medicaid is a joint program by federal and state governments that offers healthcare coverage to elders incapable of taking financial burdens. Regarding long-term care, this care program is the best assistance for people who need round-the-clock care due to chronic illnesses, age-related conditions, and disabilities.Eligibility Criteria:Eligibility depends on both health and financial criteria. Medical eligibility requires the applicants to prove the requirement for nursing home-level care as prescribed by the healthcare professional. Financial eligibility is determined by income, and asset limits, which can vary from state to state. Medicaid for nursing home care is planned for low-income individuals. Protecting Assets While Qualifying for the Medicaid:A common concern among seniors and their families is protecting their assets while qualifying for Medicaid. It comes with strict rules and regulations regarding assets, and individuals who exceed these limits can be denied to avail of the benefits, and sometimes, it attracts penalties. However, several legal strategies, like asset transfers and trusts, can be initiated to protect the assets while meeting the Medicaid requirements. In such conditions, hiring an elderly law attorney would be a great solution to this issue. They have the required expertise and experience to handle such issues.Benefits of Medicaid for Nursing Home Care:Medicaid provides comprehensive coverage for nursing home care, ensuring elders receive the necessary healthcare service to meet their healthcare needs. Not all nursing homes comply with this service. Instead, only Medicaid-certified nursing homes that meet specific quality standards offer this care to the residents. The coverage includes room and board, nursing, medical care, personal care, medication management, therapy services, and more. By accessing Medicaid for nursing home care, elders can receive the essential support they need to maintain their health and quality of life.Conclusion:Medicaid for nursing home care is a vital support system for seniors needing long-term care services. Meeting the eligibility criteria, protecting the assets, and navigating the application process are vital steps in accessing this service. By availing of this service, seniors can secure the financial assistance required to afford quality nursing home care.


Have you considered how important it will be for you to help an elder loved one decide on the right nursing home? There are many factors to consider, such as price, location, and safety record. An elder loved one also has to be comfortable with the facility if they are going to live there. These big-picture concerns only scratch the surface. Let us take time to review five questions you should be asking when doing your due diligence on nursing home selection.1. Is the nursing home accredited? All skilled nursing home facilities must comply with federal regulations if they receive Medicare and Medicaid payments. States also require nursing home certifications. An organization called the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations further accredits nursing homes. While participation is voluntary, approval from the Joint Commission shows an extra level of transparency and care.2. What is the environment like? This question is more about observing the facility than it is pressing a nursing homes management for answers. For example, is the facility clean? Is it located in a safe neighborhood? What is the quality of the outside gardens and interior dcor? These are not superficial judgments, but important criteria for long-term residence.3. Who will provide medical care? When visiting a nursing home, make sure to meet with the facilitys top administrator and medical director. Also, ask to meet with staff members who would provide medical care to your aging loved one . Is there a doctor on-site? Can your loved one still see his or her doctors? If so, will the nursing home provide transportation?4. What is the turnover rate for nursing aides? Nursing aides are the backbone of nursing home care, and a high turnover rate can be a major red flag. It may also be important to gauge the reputation of the facilitys nursing staff, but you do not have to rely on the facility for the information. Contact an area nursing home ombudsman or the agency that regulates nursing homes in your state.5. What kind of recreational activities and social services are offered? Like young people, elder adults need social interaction and enjoyable activities to be fulfilled, healthy, and mentally stimulated. This also helps mitigate loneliness and social isolation. Nursing homes should provide a wide range of activities and social opportunities. If they do not, consider it a potential deal-breaker.Choosing the right nursing home can provide peace of mind during a period of uncertainty and loss of independence. There is more to consider, especially regarding contracts, insurance, and government benefits. You are not alone. Our office can help you navigate these challenges. Contact us today to schedule a meeting.

Estate Planning Pitfalls - 3 Mistakes That Could Make Your Estate Plan Worthless

Including a Trust as part of your estate plan is a smart decision. It allows you to avoid probate, maintain privacy, and distribute your assets to your loved ones while also providing them with a lifetime of asset protection, if you choose it for them. But, heres the thing you might not know, and is critically important to remember: simply creating a Trust is not enough. For your Trust to work, it has to be funded properly and may need to be updated over time.Funding your Trust means transferring ownership of your assets from your own name into the name of your Trust. This can include bank accounts, investments, real estate, and other valuable possessions. By funding your trust properly, you ensure your assets are managed according to the terms of your Trust and will be distributed according to your wishes when you die or if you become incapacitated.But, if you fail to fund your Trust, it becomes nothing more than an empty vessel. Your assets will not be protected or distributed as intended, at least partially defeating the purpose of creating a Trust in the first place! While your assets can still get into your trust and be governed by your Trust after your death, that means that your family still goes to court to get your assets there, and that is a costly endeavor.To make sure your Trust works for you, avoid these funding fiascos and work with an attorney who will ensure that everything that needs to get into your Trust does.Forgetting to Update Your Account BeneficiariesMany people mistakenly believe that a Will or Trust alone is enough to dictate how their financial accounts should be distributed after they die. However, this isnt the case. Without proper beneficiary designations on your accounts, your wishes may not be honored and your assets could end up in the wrong hands.Remember, the beneficiaries you designate on your accounts supersede any instructions in your Will or Trust, so this step is vitally important. Take a moment to review your various accounts, such as bank accounts, retirement plans, and life insurance policies. Ensure that each account has your Trust named as your designated beneficiary, unless youve made different plans for that specific account. When you are working with a lawyer, make sure your lawyer has a plan for each one of your beneficiary-designated assets, communicates that plan to you, and that the two of you decide who will handle updating your beneficiary designations. Then, make sure you review your beneficiary designations annually. In our office, we support our clients to do all of this with well-documented asset inventories, and a regular review process built into all of our plans.Your Attorney Didnt Move Your Home Into Your TrustFor many of us, our home is our most important and valuable asset. But if your attorney doesnt deed your home into your Trust, your home wont be included under the terms of your Trust if you become incapacitated or pass away. That means your home could end up going through the long and expensive probate court process in order to be managed during an illness or passed on to your loved ones after you die. If you own a $300,000 home, that means your family could lose up to $15,000 or more just to transfer your home to your trust and then distribute your home pursuant to the terms of the trust - and thats not including any other assets that would have to go through probate.A knowledgeable estate planning attorney shouldnt miss this step, but it happens. And if youre using a DIY service online to create a Trust without the help of any attorney at all, its bound to happen!Thats why its so important to work with a lawyer who takes the time to make sure every asset you own is in your Trust before they say their farewells.Not Reviewing Your Plan and Accounts Every Three YearsYou might wonder how not reviewing your estate plan every few years could really make your plan worthless. Well, the good news is that failing to review your plan is unlikely to completely eliminate the benefits it provides you because an estate plan is made up of a number of moving parts, not just a Will or a Trust.But, failing to keep your financial assets up to date and aligned with your estate plan can result in huge issues for you and your family and can even make the Trust you invested in worth little more than the paper its printed on!Thats because your Trust cant control any assets that dont have the Trust listed as the owner or beneficiary. By reviewing your accounts every 3 years, you can help catch any accounts that dont have your Trust listed in this way.For example, its very common for clients to open a new bank account and forget to open the account in the name of their Trust or add their Trust as a beneficiary.Thankfully, by comparing my clients' financial accounts to their estate plan at least every 3 years, Im able to catch simple oversights like this that could cause their assets to be completely left out of their Trust.Make Sure All of Your Assets Are Included In Your Plan with Help From Your Personal Family LawyerGetting your legal documents in place is an important step, but it's equally important to know that the documents themselves are not magic solutions (as magical as they may seem!). Merely creating a Trust or naming beneficiaries on your accounts does not guarantee that your wishes will be carried out unless all of the pieces of your plan are coordinated to work together. If you arent experienced in the area of estate planning, trying to coordinate all these pieces yourself can be a recipe for disaster.Thats why I work closely with my clients to not only create documents but to create a comprehensive plan that accounts for all of your assets and how each one needs to be titled to make sure your plan works for you the way you intended. Plus, I offer my clients a free review of their plans and financial accounts every three years to ensure that their plans accurately reflect their lives and their wishes for their assets and loved ones.If you want to know more about my process for funding your Trust and making sure nothing is ever left out of your plan, contact Sharek Law Office at 412-347-1731 or click here to schedule a complimentary 15-Minute Call. This article is a service of Sharek Law Office, LLC. We dont just draft documents; we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That's why we offer a Life and Legacy Planning Session, during which you will get more financially organized than youve ever been before, and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by calling our office today to schedule a Life and Legacy Planning Session and mention this article to find out how to get this $750 session at no charge. Please note this is educational content only and is not intended to act as legal advice.

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Safe Harbor Law Firm

Elder Law 27821 South Tamiami Trail, Bonita Springs, Florida, 34134

At Safe Harbor Law Firm (formally known as Buff Law Firm PLLC), we focus on estate planning, elder law, and closely related practice areas. Our true focus, however, is helping families plan for and take control of their future. This can involve:Ensuring your assets will go to the people you want, when you want, in the manner you want after you pass awayPreparing for the possibility that you or your spouse will need expensive long-term careand helping you find ways to pay for itEnsuring that people you trust have the authority to make financial and medical decisions on your behalf in the event of incapacityProtecting your assets and those of your heirs against threats such as creditors, lawsuits, divorce, the high cost of long-term care, and moreGuiding your loved ones through the probate and/or trust administration processSafe Harbor Law Firm has helped families from all walks of life find solutions to challenges like these and many more. We welcome the opportunity to do the same for you. Ultimately, our goal is to help you enjoy the peace of mind that comes from having a plan in place for the future. We invite you to contact us for a personal meeting to discuss your particular needs and goals.EXPERT ATTORNEYSMeet the TeamPam Buff Baker, Esq.Attorney & FounderAbout Mrs. BakerPam Buff Baker, Esq., owner and founder of Safe Harbor Law Firm works closely with clients to meet their legal needs. In particular, Pam works in all areas of Estate Planning, Elder Law, Probate and Trust Administration. Pam was recognized by Naples Illustrated in 2021 and 2022 as a Top Lawyer in Trusts and Estates to include 2023. She is also a member of the nationwide organization, Lawyers with Purpose, an organization solely focused on helping seniors. Safe Harbor Law Firm serves clients at their offices in Naples and Bonita Springs.Pam graduated magna cum laude from Tulane University, having majored in chemical engineering. Since graduating from Tulane, Pam has worked in sales, marketing, and technical support for Eka Chemicals (part of Akzo Nobel), a company division that supplies water purification and treatment systems. Later, Pam moved to Naples, Florida. Since then, Pam graduated summa cum laude from Ave Maria School of Law, where she was Associate Editor of the Law Review and a full academic scholarship recipient. During her time at Ave Maria School of Law, Pam worked in the legal department of Arthrex and interned for several local law firms. Pam is a champion golfer, having been a varsity player at Tulane, inducted into the Hall of Fame. She was an All-American golfer, three-time conference champion, conference player of the year, and student athlete of the year. When she has free time, Pam likes to play golf and go to the beach and pool with her family, including her three children ages 4, 14, and 16. Originally from the Chicago area, Pam has lived year-round in Naples, Florida since 2005.Helen Mena, Esq.AttorneyThomas Tom LaTorre, Esq.AttorneyBrittany Cocchieri, Esq.AttorneyKatherine ReillyMarketing DirectorBryan D. WoulasDirector of OperationsAndy C. BakerFirm AdministratorKelly FinckProbate and Estate Planning Legal AssistantJessica MaristanyClient Services CoordinatorBreanna CanningFunding and Medicaid ParalegalRuth DavisClient Service CoordinatorJacqui CalmaAdministrative AssistantGabby AngExecutive AssistantMackenzie McTeviaClient Services Coordinator