Friday, August 16, 2013
Mari Park (2014 J.D. Candidate, Texas Tech University School of Law) recently published an article entitled, The Parent Trap: Health Care & Retirement Corporation of America v. Pittas, How It Reinforced Filial Responsibility Laws and Whether Filial Responsibility Laws Can Really Make You Pay, 5 Est. Plan. & Cmty. Prop. L.J. 441 (Summer 2013). Provided below is the introduction to her article:
Parents spend hundreds of thousands of dollars raising and supporting their children, usually without asking for anything in return. Unless the fully-grown children are later (somehow) tricked into it, most of them will not need to support their aging parents. However, what happens when elderly parents can no longer support themselves? Many elderly require long-term care in costly nursing homes, and the bills add up quickly. What happens when they can no longer afford these costs? Are children responsible for the costs of taking care of their parents? In Pennsylvania—or one of the other twenty-eight states with filial responsibility laws—the answer is yes; the children may be held responsible.
In Health Care & Retirement Corporation of America v. Pittas, a Pennsylvania court of appeals recently held that John was liable for his mother’s $93,000 bill for long-term care in a nursing home. With this decision, the court reinforced the state’s filial responsibility law that requires adult children to support their aging parents.
This comment will address filial responsibility laws and the various ways they may affect adult children who are unaware of such laws. First, a discussion of Pittas will introduce a common situation in which children could be held liable for their parents’ long-term care costs. Part II.B will present an overview of Pennsylvania’s filial responsibility law as well as the history behind it. Part III will address the twenty-eight other states with similar statutes and discuss the pros and cons of having and enforcing filial responsibility. Part IV will focus on Texas, which does not have a filial responsibility statute, and recommend that Texas should adopt a similar law.