Curious Concept from a Midwest Neighbor

Joe is taking care of his Mom, Dolly. Joshua, Joe’s brother and Dolly’s other son, isn’t helping out.  So Joe sues Joshua for help with Dolly’s care costs – and wins.  Now Joshua has to pay $400 per month toward Dolly’s care costs.  So says a recent decision of the Superior Court of Pennsylvania.  Click here to read the case.

It’s called “Filial Responsibility.” Surprisingly, 29 states have laws that would allow this result, although only two: Pennsylvania and South Dakota have actively used these laws in recent times. Michigan is not currently one of the states with such laws.

The concept, that kids are responsible for their parent’s care costs seems simultaneously fair and outrageous.

In one respect it seems fair that children support their parents. After all, they supported their children during periods when the children were incapable of financing their own needs.

On the other hand, parents elect to have children and assume those costs. Children have no choice as to who their parents are, and no control over how their parents’ resources were dissipated prior to any demand for support from the kids. Adult children may not even like their parents (as is one of the defenses raised by Joshua in this case).

The concept seems especially disconcerting in this time of high care expenses for the elderly. Should the states, now overwhelmed with paying for care of a booming population of older impaired adults, start looking to the pocketbooks of their children as another source to offset these expenses?

It is an interesting topic for sure. To read more about filial responsibility laws, click here and here.

  • Paul A. Sturgul

    Filial Responsibility: an interesting concept. A thought: If we want to move Financing of Long Term Care Front and Center to American public discourse, enact and enforce Filial Responsibility Laws. That’ll get people talking about Who Pays for Mom and Dad!