Filial responsibility creates the obligation of an adult child to care for an impoverished parent. Under certain circumstances, filial support laws can be expanded to include a duty to care for other relatives such as adult siblings or aunts and uncles. Over twenty-fives states have filial responsibility laws in place.


Currently, there are few instances of filial responsibility being enforced in the long-term care setting. When this duty is imposed, however, the adult child could be required to pay for the long-term care needs of an aging parent. These costs have the potential to be applied whether the parent receives assistance within the home or outside the home, such as in a skilled nursing facility.


The most recent instances of filial responsibility have occurred in Pennsylvania. In the Pittas case, an adult child was found legally obligated by the Pennsylvania Superior Court to pay his mother’s outstanding skilled nursing facility bill when she left the country. In the Eori case, while the mother was not destitute, her adult child who was caring for her sued his siblings for support to help pay for her care and won.


Researchers from across the nation continue to be concerned that this will become a very real issue in the future. The main reason why is the rapid influx of aging seniors who will soon need long-term care. Beginning with the Baby Boomer generation, both the state and federal governments are seeing a consistently increasing need for long-term care across America.


Although there were no dramatic changes this past year, with a legislative session now upon us we need to watch our filial responsibility laws. This responsibility could apply not only to aging parents who cannot afford long-term care but to siblings and others who cannot afford long-term care on their own.


The key to successfully navigating long-term care challenges is working with an elder law attorney as early as possible. Together, you can develop a plan that will reach your family’s goals. Planning to reach your goals can dramatically lessen the chance of an event that could impact an entire family. Don’t wait to talk to our team about the long-term care planning you and your loved ones need.