Did you know you could be responsible for your parents' unpaid bills? Thirty states currently have laws making adult children responsible for their parents if their parents can't afford to take care of themselves. While these laws are rarely enforced, there has been speculation that states may begin dusting them off as a way to save on Medicaid expenses.
These laws, called filial responsibility laws, obligate adult children to provide necessities like food, clothing, housing, and medical attention for their indigent parents. According to the National Center for Policy Analysis, a conservative research organization, 21 states allow a civil court action to obtain financial support or cost recovery, 12 states impose criminal penalties on children who do not support their parents, and three states allow both civil and criminal actions. (For a list of the states and citations to state statutes, click here.)
For a discussion of filial responsibility laws in the New York Times's "New Old Age" blog, click here.