David Lerner Associates: Why You Could Be on the Hook for Your Parent's Long-Term Care
Call it the new baby boomer challenge, but adult children may very well find themselves legally responsible for the costs of their aging parent’s long-term care.
In the case of Health Care and Retirement Corp of America v. John Pittas, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania ruled in May that a Pennsylvania nursing home was entitled to seek $92,943 from an adult son for costs his mother incurred there.
After being seriously injured in a head-on collision, Maryann Pittas had recuperated in an Allentown, Pennsylvania, rehab facility. Shortly after his mother left the facility, her son John Pittas received a bill seeking payment—before a claim filed with Medicaid had been resolved. After a long legal battle, the courts ultimately held him responsible for paying his mother's bill.
“It can be a bit of a shock for some people when they learn about these filial-support laws,” notes David Lerner Associates Branch Manager Jonathan Jarow. Now on the books in almost three-fifths of all U.S. states, these statutes can be used to force adult children to pay the long-term care expenses of an indigent parent.
Jarow notes that the practice of compelling adult children to care for their aging parents is not a new one. Britain’s Elizabethan Act for the Relief of the Poor established the duty of adult children to care for their aging parents as far back as 1601. “The costs of long-term care are increasing at the same time that states are facing severe budget shortfalls,” he explains. “As states dust off these laws, third party creditors gain some leverage in compelling adult children to pay their parents' nursing home bills.”
Compounding the problem, baby boomers often don’t have a clear picture of their parents’ true financial situation. Aging parents may be reluctant to discuss finances with their children. At the same time, busy boomers may be distracted by the financial demands of having their own children in college while also trying to save for their retirement.
The best defense, Jarow suggests, is planning. “As uncomfortable as it may be to talk about, adult children can be at a disadvantage if they don’t have at least a snapshot of their parents’ health needs and financial situation,” he says. “If your parents aren’t multimillionaires, then you may need to get some advice early on, even as early as 65.”
A good first step is to determine if long-term care insurance has been purchased—and if so, what it covers. Then, consider having the policy reviewed by a qualified professional, such as a long-term care insurance specialist or elder care/estate planning attorney.
“If there isn’t any long-term care insurance and the parents can’t afford to purchase coverage, perhaps this is an expense their adult children can help with,” Jarow notes. “In the end, it may be better than being hit with an unexpected bill for their care later on.”
Material contained in this article is provided for information purposes only and is not intended to be used in connection with the evaluation of any investments offered by David Lerner Associates,Inc. (DLA). This material does not constitute an offer or recommendation to buy or sell securities and should not be considering in connection with the purchase or sale of securities. Member FINRA & SIPC.
Founded in 1976, David Lerner Associates is a privately-held investment company with headquarters in Syosset, New York and branch offices in Westport, CT; Boca Raton, FL; Teaneck and Princeton, NJ; and White Plains, NY. For more information contact David Lerner Associates 1 877 367 5960 http://www.davidlerner.com