A Pennsylvania man was recently held liable for his mom’s $93,000 nursing home bill. In 30 states adult children are legally responsible to support their parents when they lack sufficient income to take care of themselves. This is known as filial responsibility and the number of states with filial laws is growing.

Filial responsibility laws typically don’t apply unless your parent receives support from the government or they incur a nursing home or medical bill that they cannot pay. The government, nursing home, or hospital can then file a lawsuit against you in those states that allow it.

In some states, if a nursing home, hospital or the state obtains a judgment against you, you can go to jail if you don’t pay. Approximately half of the states with filial responsibility laws impose criminal penalties if you fail to pay. Who says debtor prisons no longer exist in America? Other states will use the judgment to garnish your wages or place liens against your property. The unpaid debt will also appear on your credit report.

Minnesota does not currently have filial responsibility laws, however, there are still circumstances in which you can be held responsible for your parents' nursing home and medical bills. For more information on filial responsibility laws, click here.

Chuck Roulet
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Nationally Recognized Estate Planning Attorney, Author, and Speaker
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