Most parents intend to leave some sort of inheritance to their children. However, there is a Pennsylvania law that could actually cause a parent to leave their children with significant debt. The law is commonly referred to as the filial responsibility law, which requires spouses, children and parents of indigent persons to care for and financially assist them.
A recent post by InvestmentNews touches on two Pennsylvania court rulings involving the law. In Health Care & Retirement Corp. of America v. Pittas, a son was required to shell out $93,000.00 to fulfill a debt to a nursing home that had provided care for his mother. In Eori v. Eori, one of three siblings sued the other two because he was providing support for their mother and the other two were not. The court ruled that the other two siblings were accountable for their mother’s support under the law.
Exceptions to the Pennsylvania Filial Responsibility Law
There are some exceptions to the filial responsibility law. First, it does not apply to children who do not have the financial ability to support their parents. Second, if the indigent parent had abandoned a child for ten continuous years while the child was a minor, the child will not be required to foot his or her parent’s bill.
Typically, if a parent is unable to pay for nursing care, he or she can apply for to Medicaid to pay the bills. However, the filial responsibility law may kick in where Medicaid is denied, incomplete, or delayed.
If you have a low-income parent who is or will be receiving nursing care, it behooves you to educate yourself on the Medicaid process and long term care planning. If you are in a situation where you think the filial responsibility law would apply, the attorneys at Herr and Low will be happy to meet with you to discuss.
Matt Grosh is an attorney at Herr & Low. He practices in the areas of estate planning and administration, corporate law, nonprofit organizations and taxation.