Long-term care planning often carries significant negative associations. Most clients don’t want to plan for a time when they are incapacitated and require constant care, and the dramatic increases in the cost of long-term care insurance have made this type of planning shockingly expensive for many clients.
Regardless of these factors, clients have to be reminded about the importance of LTC planning—and that this is not always an issue that’s only relevant for those clients nearing retirement.
As clients’ parents age, we should remember that children may, in some cases, be held financially responsible for their parents’ nursing home costs—and that this is no longer an outlandish idea, but one that has actually been legally enforced in the courts within the last five years. Providing clients with viable LTC insurance alternatives can help them avoid the shock of unexpectedly facing the financial burden of paying for parents’ nursing home costs—whether they are legally obligated to do so, or simply want to help their parents receive the best care possible.
Recent Cases Upholding ‘Filial Responsibility’ Laws
Filial responsibility laws are state laws that can essentially hold adult children liable for their parent’s long-term care costs. While these laws rarely make the news, they are on the books in 28 states and can provide a powerful motivation to encourage clients to plan for their future LTC costs, and to take steps to develop a plan for paying for parents’ long-term care needs.
One of the important modern cases enforcing filial responsibility laws was a Pennsylvania case in which an adult son was held liable for $93,000 in nursing home costs required to care for his mother after she was involved in an accident. The court in this case found the son liable despite the fact that his mother’s Medicaid application remained pending at the time, and without regard to whether other potential sources of payment (including two other siblings) existed.
In another more recent case, however, the court required one sibling to make monthly payments to his brother in order to pay for the cost of their mother’s long-term care. In Eori v. Eori, one brother was providing a significant portion of his mother’s care in the home and, because he was able to prove that his mother could not provide for herself financially, was able to obtain a court order to require his brother to contribute to the cost of that care. While the mother in Eori did have some income, the court determined that it was insufficient to allow her to provide for herself financially (especially considering that her illnesses required 24-hour in-home care).