Are You Legally Required to Care for Elderly Parents?
Although federal laws governing a child’s responsibility to care for elderly parents do not currently exist, this matter is addressed on the state level. Over twenty states, including North Carolina, have filial responsibility laws.
Filial responsibility statutes govern the duties of adult children when it comes to caring for their elderly parents. Adult children may be responsible for:
- Paying the balance of expenses if an elderly parent’s care costs exceed their income
- Satisfying nursing home care bills
- Monthly payments to parents
Typically these responsibilities only apply to adult children whose parents are indigent. Children who were abandoned by their parents and children with low incomes are usually exempt from requirements.
With the “Sandwich Generation” caring for both their children and their aging parents, how can adult children manage elder care costs?
Plan in advance. Medicaid Trusts are excellent tools for seniors that protect assets for heirs while at the same time preserving an elderly person’s eligibility for Medicaid. However, assets need to be transferred three years before the senior applies for Medicaid or else the assets will be counted and could jeopardize Medicaid coverage.
Meet with a NC elder law attorney. The many states that have filial responsibility statutes recognize that the laws are antiquated and rarely enforced. However, the laws still exist and may very well affect unsuspecting adult children. An elder law attorney can review North Carolina filial responsibility laws with you and explain how they apply to your unique situation.
Although North Carolina has made no formal announcement, some states are talking about creating laws that allow adult children to be relieved of filial responsibility in exchange for their surrender of inheritance rights. Follow our elder law attorneys in Chapel Hill on Facebook and Twitter to learn about pending legislation changes.