A large part of what we do at Altman & Associates is help our clients make a plan - for their future, for their business, for their marriage, for their children’s futures, etc. In order to do that, we rely on our experience of seeing where all the pitfalls lie and our understanding of the legal framework that will affect the plans we devise. An example of a law that could affect planning is a filial support law. A filial support law is one that requires children to support their parents.
More than half of American states have a filial support law; as an example, Maryland’s law requires, children who are able to pay, to support a parent that cannot support his or herself. In Maryland, failure to support a destitute parent can be enforced through criminal action against the child. If that sounds strange, it is because filial support laws are rarely enforced. But, according to a Wall Street Journal article, assisted living centers in Pennsylvania are starting to use Pennsylvania’s filial support law in order to collect fees from the children of their residents who are unable to pay the bill. Based on that, we could speculate that if such a tactic works for assisted living centers in Pennsylvania, centers in other states would attempt the same strategy.
Most children, of course, do not require a law to compel them to take care of an aging or ill parent who is need of help. More often than not, children want to take care of their parents. The greater concern is the possibility that an elderly parent could require substantial support as he or she gets older and possibly afflicted by illness.
Do you have a plan? Will that plan succeed? These are important questions. Various strategies we develop with our clients in order to plan for their parents’ future support include proper Medicare/Medicaid planning and selecting long- term care insurance. No one strategy works for everyone though; rather, what is important is to recognize the concern and engage in planning.
- Michael Wolsh, Esq.