Unbeknownst to most Americans, more than half of U.S. states (29 plus Puerto Rico) have “filial responsibility” laws in effect that could potentially obligate adult children to support their impoverished parents. That includes paying the tab for basic necessities like food, housing, clothing, and medical attention, according to Little.

Source: Are you liable for your parent’s nursing home bills? | MassMutual

Turns out however that even states with such laws rarely enforce them, mainly because they weren’t needed after Medicaid became available, but also because federal laws enacted in 2016 prohibit nursing homes from requiring payment from third parties. In most states, for a child to be held accountable for a parent’s bill, all of these things would have to be true:

  • The parent received care in a state that has a filial responsibility law.
  • The parent did not qualify for Medicaid when receiving care.
  • The parent does not have the money to pay the bill.
  • The child has the money to pay the bill.
  • The caregiver chooses to sue the child.

Nevertheless, as the cost of long term care stresses the funding limits of Medicaid, and with Medicaid planning used as an asset preservation strategy of those with significant assets, don’t be surprised if public opinion influences legislation that shifts more of the cost burden on the family and away from the government.