On the hook for Mom & Dad
April 10, 2013 1:22 PM   Subscribe

Your parent's nursing home bill may soon be your responsibility. In response to the US recession and aging population, long-dormant state filial responsibility laws are being upheld. Use this handy chart to find your state laws.

Further reading:

- Filial Support Laws in the Modern Era: Domestic and International Comparison of Enforcement Practices for Laws Requiring Adult Children to Support Indigent Parents.
- Filial Responsibility Laws: The next iceberg for GLBT people?
- The National Center For Policy Analysis promotes the state use of these laws, but also gives a useful bit of info at the bottom of the page: "A state could automatically consider an adult child able to pay toward care of an indigent parent unless they file a public notice that they are not responsible for the debts of the parent.  Additionally, adult children who refuse to support their parents could be required to relinquish inheritance rights and rights to any trust set up for them by a parent."
posted by thrasher (110 comments total) 40 users marked this as a favorite
 
What happens if the parent is in a state with filial support laws but the child is not? Also, I assume material and emotional abandonment excuse people under these laws? I mean, is this going to end up making adults have to pay for the care of their deadbeat parents?
posted by saulgoodman at 1:33 PM on April 10, 2013 [16 favorites]


Great. Just when all the ice floes have melted.
posted by Sys Rq at 1:33 PM on April 10, 2013 [32 favorites]


Whoa, so my children's father avoids child support for their entire lives and they'll be on the hook for him? I call foul.

unless they file a public notice that they are not responsible for the debts of the parent.

They have to publicly announce that they are behaving just as he did. That won't exacerbate the damage at all.
posted by headnsouth at 1:37 PM on April 10, 2013 [17 favorites]


Huh. Interesting in an era where "people aren't doing as well as their parents' generation."

So, my parent blew a million dollars of inherited money, and now I'll have to go without nice things in order to support her? Am hoping that there are loopholes (it sounds like there are).

Or, what saulgoodman said.
posted by sockerpup at 1:37 PM on April 10, 2013 [11 favorites]


I was wondering how they were eventually going to get around the five-year lookback on gifts for Medicaid, because that couldn't possibly be enough of a hit to middle-income family wealth.

Now I know.
posted by Currer Belfry at 1:38 PM on April 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


I predict a serious uptick in parents mysteriously passing away in these 29 states.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 1:38 PM on April 10, 2013 [7 favorites]


Oh that's just great.

I can't afford my own retirement, but they can come after me for my parents. Lovely.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:41 PM on April 10, 2013 [30 favorites]


No chance for abuse here at all. I can fully see top tier nursing homes in these states admitting people on the basis of the gross income of their children.
posted by bfranklin at 1:45 PM on April 10, 2013 [6 favorites]


Well, we could go down this road, spreading the pain of medical bankruptcy right down the generations to cripple families in perpetuity, or we could just get some goddamned national healthcare in this stupid country.

I would off myself before I'd go into a home knowing it would bankrupt my child. It would be nice if I didn't have to consider that option because I lived in a country that understood medical care as a right and not some extra special options package for the rich.
posted by emjaybee at 1:45 PM on April 10, 2013 [118 favorites]


Huh. Interesting in an era where "people aren't doing as well as their parents' generation."

I'm 24. My single greatest fear is that I'll injure myself so badly that I won't be able to help my parents in their old age.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 1:45 PM on April 10, 2013 [9 favorites]


I'm sure this won't lead to the rise of bargain-basement warehouses for the elderly.
posted by mullingitover at 1:47 PM on April 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


Jesus, this is foul. I can see armies of managed-care-industry lawyers descending upon the statehouses to make damned sure none of them repeal those laws.

Apparently, the future is universal bankruptcy.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:47 PM on April 10, 2013 [7 favorites]


Oh and the "spending down" part is another kick in the keister. My grandmother had just enough to get by, but not enough to pay for a nursing home, but too much to qualify for Medicaid. She had to unload all her assets and comforts and become poor so she could get healthcare that she needed to survive. I guess that makes her some kind of criminal.
posted by emjaybee at 1:48 PM on April 10, 2013 [6 favorites]


It has always been my understanding that the nursing home gets to deplete the estate until there's nothing left to inherit but cannot come after the child's assets unless the child voluntarily assumes the parents' debt.

In Louisiana I believe there is also a rule that allows a family member to live in a parents' home until the parent dies, at which time the nursing home can take possession.

I suspect the issue in the OP is that the child didn't want to relinquish the ability to inherit from the relative who fled her debt overseas.
posted by localroger at 1:49 PM on April 10, 2013


Raising kids is pretty expensive so I guess I'm not totally opposed to this. It makes more sense as a social obligation than a law, but the US is too legalistic, individual-rights oriented, non-equal in terms of income, and diverse to have strong social obligations for everyone. As long as the kids get good (free) legal representation and it's not applied in a hegemonic way...

The Baby Boomers paid into a system of state support, though, so where did the money go?
posted by subdee at 1:49 PM on April 10, 2013


Yeah, I'll make close friends with a shotgun before I make my kid pay a dime for my care. This is especially bad because elders don't always have a choice in being committed to these places.

I believe in helping family, but the law shouldn't force you to do so. And the idea of children being forced to pay for deadbeat dads is particularly repugnant.
posted by corb at 1:52 PM on April 10, 2013 [7 favorites]


Whoa, so my children's father avoids child support for their entire lives and they'll be on the hook for him? I call foul.

In classical Greece, an important reason for designating children formally as bastards was to relieve them of filial duty.
posted by ocschwar at 1:53 PM on April 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


The Baby Boomers paid into a system of state support, though, so where did the money go?

Halliburton and Wall Street.
posted by entropicamericana at 1:54 PM on April 10, 2013 [30 favorites]


I suppose you could ship your poor old parents off to a cheap country for "retirement."

So sad to me.
posted by discopolo at 1:55 PM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


What about people who are estranged from a parent? Would you have to file a legal estrangement in order to ensure you would not be held responsible? Am I going to have to figure out a way to divorce my father?
posted by padraigin at 1:59 PM on April 10, 2013 [8 favorites]


I will gladly pay for my father's nursing home bill. Just as soon as he pays one red fucking cent of back child support. Oh wait, he's dead now. Sowwwwwwy!
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 2:05 PM on April 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


And the Baby Boomers manage one final indignity on their progeny. I say this because I have no idea how they could further put the screws to us.
posted by Yowser at 2:05 PM on April 10, 2013 [29 favorites]


Baby Boomers did not pay for a system of nursing home care. It has always been excluded from Medicare, which is the (sort of) paid in advance health care regime -- i.e., you work and you and your employer pay Medicare tax, and then you get Medicare when you retire or become disabled.

Nursing home care for the indigent alone is covered by Medicaid, which is and always has been a welfare program funded from the general revenue (income and corporate taxes) of the non-indigent.
posted by MattD at 2:09 PM on April 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


I say this because I have no idea how they could further put the screws to us.

That's okay, I'm sure they do.
posted by entropicamericana at 2:14 PM on April 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


also see south korea & japan...
posted by kliuless at 2:16 PM on April 10, 2013


I was wondering how they were eventually going to get around the five-year lookback on gifts for Medicaid, because that couldn't possibly be enough of a hit to middle-income family wealth.

Now I know.


Well, that 5 year lookback used to be a 3 year lookback until the adoption of DRA, and there's a bill now that would extend that lookback to 10 years. No stone unturned.
posted by percor at 2:16 PM on April 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


What bothers me most about this is my intuition that what will really happen is that the 'egregious' cases of millionaires letting their parents go to Medicaid funded nursing homes will still happen because they'll find a way to protect their assets somehow. Meanwhile regular people will be forced into penury to repay their parent's Medicaid bills.
posted by ob1quixote at 2:16 PM on April 10, 2013 [11 favorites]


So this has been my nightmare for years, and now I see it has come.
posted by winna at 2:17 PM on April 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


How about requiring parents have the foresight to have a living will and maybe a little life insurance to take care of themselves when they ship off to the great beyond, Huh? Awww, can't do that? Boo-fucking-hoo.

My sperm donor kicked the bucket last month. He was one of these "just bury me in a paupers grave", self-pitying shit-barns who, on top of abandoning us when we were three, managed to turn out later in life to be an even more miserable ass. He never bothered to have a living will and thrust others into having to shell out their hard earned dough when he died. He was of sound mind and body for many of his last years (or so I heard) and had plenty of opportunity to do a little advance work on this stuff. He never bothered to I guess (shocking since he was such a wonderful responsible father!) If any of those states wants my cash, the will have to pry it from my warm, live hands while eating a bag of dicks.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 2:22 PM on April 10, 2013 [7 favorites]


The way to properly shelter the assets is to gift them early into a MIDGT (Medicaid Intentionally Defective Grantor Trust). That takes the assets out of the Medicaid applicant's reach for Medicaid purposes. Often they'll retain an income right, but they'll give up any right to access the principal (which will go to their kids upon death). Since they can't get to it, it's no longer a countable resource for Medicaid purposes, and since the gift is made prior to the lookback, the uncompensated transfer penalty doesn't apply.

... or so I've heard.
posted by percor at 2:22 PM on April 10, 2013 [13 favorites]


Awesome. My mom has been disabled all my life, and I'm just now starting to put things together to make a life for myself. She'll probably go to a nursing home in the next few years penniless (never had an opportunity to work) because I can't care for her the rest of her natural life due to the time commitment her disability takes and now I'm on the hook?

Wonderful. I started out poor as dirt as a kid, why did I bother clawing my way to middle class?
posted by skittlekicks at 2:24 PM on April 10, 2013 [7 favorites]


And now I can feel like an even more terrible person for feeling kind of grateful that both my parents are dead. Not even so much because "oh my god what would I do", but because my mom for sure and even my no-child-support-paying dad would both rather have died of shame than live in a situation in which their kids would be required by law to pay their bills.
posted by rtha at 2:25 PM on April 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Wisconsin does not have a Filial Support Law.

*fist bump*

Glad that Dad loves Milwaukee, and wants to be here until he dies.
posted by spinifex23 at 2:35 PM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


So those families with 15 or 20 kids are going to be just fine.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 2:39 PM on April 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Others have said this before, but if these laws hold up, expect to see a lot of tragic, unexpected opioid overdoses among the elderly in the affected states.

Poor grandma is going to "accidentally" overdose on pain meds before she's allowed to bankrupt her entire extended family. This will happen, and it will be tacitly encouraged at all levels of society.
posted by Avenger at 2:41 PM on April 10, 2013 [16 favorites]


This is the stuff of Dickens novels.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 2:42 PM on April 10, 2013 [25 favorites]


being an orphan rules.
posted by liketitanic at 2:46 PM on April 10, 2013 [6 favorites]


From the article:
There was no evidence presented that Mr. Pittas took any of his mother’s money for himself. The Superior Court rejected Mr. Pittas’ arguments that the courts should have considered alternate forms of payment, such as his mother’s husband, her two other adult children, or Medicaid.

So the issue is not just the son is responsible for his mother's bill, but he's the only one responsible. The state didn't even pursue her husband, other children, or MEDICAID!

So why did Pennsylvania go after only the one son? Why didn't they pursue all children equally? Or the husband?

There's a lot here that makes little to no sense.
posted by teleri025 at 2:47 PM on April 10, 2013 [6 favorites]


I'm 24. My single greatest fear is that I'll injure myself so badly that I won't be able to help my parents in their old age.

I'm 33, and my biggest fear is that my parents' generation is going to bankrupt every government-run social service that this country has, and then bankrupt their children. That's on top, obviously, of their gross mismanagement of the world economy, their willful ignorance of climate change, etc, etc. But hey, they deserve to retire at sixty-five, amirite? The worked their whole lives for this!

My retirement plan is me and a gun. My healthcare plan, should something catastrophic happen, is me and a gun. My best hope for my child's future is either getting her out of this country before age or illness takes me, or making sure that I kill myself before it happens. Thanks, baby boomers!
posted by MeghanC at 2:47 PM on April 10, 2013 [28 favorites]


In classical Greece, an important reason for designating children formally as bastards was to relieve them of filial duty.

Do you have a cite for that?
posted by BWA at 2:48 PM on April 10, 2013


Currer Belfry: "I was wondering how they were eventually going to get around the five-year lookback on gifts for Medicaid, because that couldn't possibly be enough of a hit to middle-income family wealth. "

Nah. That part always struck me as being eminently reasonable. People (regardless of income) shouldn't be allowed to cheat Medicaid by giving their money to their kids so that they qualify as "poor." I don't like the current healthcare system, but the 5-year lookback is there to prevent people from blatantly cheating the system.

(But, Jesus Christ, that law turns people into monsters, when siblings start estimating when their parents are 5 years away from death. I have a rather dim view of certain parts of my extended family as a result of this clause.)
posted by schmod at 2:48 PM on April 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


The extent to which adult children should help out elderly parents who were incompetent, neglectful, abusive or otherwise lacking in constructive parental skills is an issue routinely debated and bemoaned among individuals caught up in Elder Care.

It is also frequently the case that, when care bankrupts an elderly person, at least one child (if there are any) follows him / her down that rabbit hole -- and this without state enforcement of filial support laws.

As someone who has been caught up in the Elder Care Follies for some years now (I'm the POA who does the heavy lifting with money management, interfacing with accountants / lawyers / doctors / nursing homes / etc., problem solving, managing logistics, etc. etc. etc.), I will remain eternally grateful to the miser uncle who left a little pile of money that almost certainly will be enough to cover anything his sister (my mother) is likely to need.

Filial obligation laws aside, Elder Care is already a Big Big Problem from a financial perspective largely due to the costs of (1) medical care for an often -- if not usually -- over-treated elderly population, (2) the housing and maintenance expenses for the segment of the elderly population that can no longer competently or safely manage the "activities of daily living" such as eating, toileting, bathing, transferring and so on, and (3) the not insignificant costs -- economic, opportunistic and otherwise -- that impact the children or other relatives involved in their care.

Because of the exploding cost of caring for a sick and dysfunctional population of elders, states have been quietly exploring the potential for the enforcement of old filial obligation laws for quite some time now. It doesn't seem to have occurred to anyone that successful enforcement of such laws only kicks the can down the road -- unless of course the adult children so impacted up and die young due to the stress of it all (which, frankly, they might).
posted by cool breeze at 2:53 PM on April 10, 2013 [13 favorites]


I nicked this off a lawyer web site and it does offer some insight that someone with more legal chops could expound on.

Not Every Adult Child Must Pay
The law gives courts some discretion when enforcing filial responsibility laws. If you're barely making ends meet financially, courts typically won't require you to impoverish yourself to pay for your parent's care. Likewise, if you're paying significant costs for your own child, such as college tuition, this may exempt you from being responsible for your parent as well. A "clean hands" doctrine also applies. If your parent abused you or abandoned you as a child, the law allows that she's undeserving of your financial support. However, some states have statutory requirements for abandonment. In Pennsylvania, your parent must have abandoned you for at least 10 years before you reached age 18.

posted by KevinSkomsvold at 2:55 PM on April 10, 2013


Wisconsin does not have a Filial Support Law.

I wouldn't be surprised if the Republican dominated state government passed one in the next few years.
posted by drezdn at 3:06 PM on April 10, 2013


P.S.

Before this thread flames out in a generational rant about the real and imaginary evils of the parental generation, let me add this:

People aren't any brighter, dumber, more ethical, less ethical, more capable, less capable than they ever have been. The notion of some halcyon age in which people behaved competently, honestly and / or kindly in their tour of duty through the human race never existed. The world -- and I know this will come as a shock to some -- was never a particularly great place regardless of the generation in charge. (Read some history if you don't believe me.)

There is a line in an old film of ~ 1967 vintage (Look Who's Coming to Dinner, I believe) in which the Baby Boomer Sidney Poitier character, in an argument with his father, goes on about how "only when every one of your [daddy's] generation up and dies will the weight of you be off our backs" and the world be a better place. When I saw this film on TV sometime in childhood, I thought the idealistic ignorance of it was amusing. (The Baby Boomer brats are the cohort in front of me, and the idealism stereotyped as characteristic of them in their youth has, well, always struck me as indicative of the the sort of ignorance only well off people can afford.)

So the bigger point: the cost of Elder Care is a function of the fact that we live way, way, way too long. Thanks to vaccines, we are spared the inconvenience of the infectious diseases that used to cull the herd. We think every little condition, injury or disability should have a treatment if not a cure. We are no longer even supposed to die in accidents or through acts of war. We think that when a 60 year old kicks off that it died too young. We don't want to recognize and accept our mortality. So, um, gee, as a consequence the technology thrown at our fears, it so happens that we live too long.

And I will also ask for the umpteenth time: what are we supposed to die of?? Because I sure as hell don't want to rot away for years on end in a nursing home. (And this is why I'm a DNR under almost any circumstance.) (And my doctor almost thinks I'm nuts, seeing how I'm not quite geriatric.)

OK, I'm going away now. Please forgive my rant.
posted by cool breeze at 3:18 PM on April 10, 2013 [20 favorites]


an often -- if not usually -- over-treated elderly population

Yes, exactly. My colleague's 95-year-old grandmother, in the first stages of dementia, just had a hip replacement. That seems like unnecessary suffering for her, and a criminally high bill that will add to the cost of the nursing home she's already in.

Maybe, instead of this dark scenario where everybody's murdering Grandma, this law could help create a cultural shift to giving a little more thought to living wills and the minimum quality of life to preserve, rather than keeping someone alive just because it's medically possible (and profitable).
posted by lily_bart at 3:25 PM on April 10, 2013 [6 favorites]


Now that I'm home, I see that both my home state and my father's state of residence do not have filial responsibility laws (yet). This is good, I can continue to pretend that my mother grew me in a cabbage patch without having to make it a legal designation.
posted by padraigin at 3:40 PM on April 10, 2013


If they start to seriously enforce these laws voters are going to freak out and force a change.
posted by humanfont at 3:55 PM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm not worried. If Pennsylvania wants me to pay my father's debts, I will simply give them my son's contact information.

After all, this is how Social Security works.
posted by Ardiril at 4:10 PM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


My comment: "wait, what?!!?"

There must be something we are missing about this. I can maybe see a law where a child might be required to give up the spare bedroom before the state will give mom a bed in the poorhouse. But being on the hook for their financial decisions that I have no control over? WTF.
posted by gjc at 4:18 PM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


I suppose you could ship your poor old parents off to a cheap country for "retirement."

Sarah? Catherine? If you're reading this, could we make it a country in the Golden Triangle?

kthxbye...
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:44 PM on April 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


Reading most of the comments has been a rude awakening. My generation lost touch with things that really matter (e.g. what "enough" is; strong communities, etc.), largely because we got seduced by the trappings of material success, and being helped down the faux primrose path of economic "success" by one lying political administration, after another (including the current one).

Not only did we do all of that, we raised a generation of children who, among them, are some of the most selfish and self-absorbed individuals, ever.

This country is rotting, from the inside, out - largely because we have been seduced into thinking that "self-reliance" and"individual attainment" and similar memes that lead to profound societal disintegration, were good things.

Now, we are going to reap the whirlwind. Welcome to the American Nightmare.

That said, nightmares end. The real challenge is going to be able to shake off the screwy, selfish values that we have inculcated, and have further taught to too-many of our spoiled, selfish children. Should be an interesting next couple of decades, wouldn't you say?
posted by Vibrissae at 4:44 PM on April 10, 2013 [8 favorites]


My 85 year old grandparents live in a nursing home. One of them has Alzheimers, amongst other conditions, and the other has bone cancer, amongst other conditions. They're pretty much continually miserable, but not sick enough to die. They have separate rooms due to needing different sorts of care. Each room is about the size of my bedroom. For this they pay something like $3000/month each. This is in Arkansas - I can't even imagine what this would cost in California or New York.

AFAIK, Medicaid will kick in when they run out of private funds to pay, but if it did not, there is no freaking way my mother could come up with $6000/month and still live her life. My mother is the only living child, and I'm also an only child. Seriously, where do they expect people to come up with that kind of money?
posted by desjardins at 4:47 PM on April 10, 2013 [7 favorites]


Vibrissae, what are you talking about? This has nothing to do with selfishness and everything to do with reality. Look at my last comment - my mother CANNOT PHYSICALLY PAY $6000 per month for her parents to live in a nursing home. I think very few people would have that kind of money even if they ate ramen and lived in someone else's basement.

It's not that people have gotten more selfish and materialistic, it's that the cost of healthcare has risen astronomically and most people cannot afford to support themselves AND someone in a nursing home.
posted by desjardins at 4:53 PM on April 10, 2013 [32 favorites]


Seriously, where do they expect people to come up with that kind of money?

They don't care. All that the elected officials in question care about is that their governments don't have to pay for it, allowing them to issue tax cuts to the people who paid to put them in power.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:59 PM on April 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


IANAL but to expound on what I posted above for this collective freak-out, I am pretty sure that every state that has one of these laws ALSO has a way to opt out, a way that most assuredly also involves relinquishing any claims to the estate. Since the nursing home will be depleting the estate anyway that's a nil point. I suspect the main thing here is to collect houses, which aren't counted toward Medicare eligibility, toward recouping the costs instead of letting the relatives get them. Yes that sucks but it's not like you can get caught on the hook for your estranged sperm donor who bailed on his child support. Unless your estranged sperm donor has a suitcase full of money you hope to inherit all you have to do is sign a form declaring your emancipation and you're no longer obligated.
posted by localroger at 5:07 PM on April 10, 2013


P.S. I did look into this, although not recently, pursuant to the 17 year period when I was completely estranged from my own parents. And even today I have the fact that they moved to Mississippi partly so they could completely disinherit me to work with.
posted by localroger at 5:08 PM on April 10, 2013


Part of the challenge is that estate planners have figured out ways to transfer assets to the next generation making the size of the estate available to pay for care smaller. Also people are getting a few months of extra very expensive end of life care. So the result is that the costs of Medicade are going up for the state.
posted by humanfont at 5:12 PM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


We think that when a 60 year old kicks off that it died too young.

I'm lucky enough to have a good job with a retirement plan that allows me to collect at 62, with 30 years of service. Goddamn right dying at 60 is too young.
posted by The Hamms Bear at 5:31 PM on April 10, 2013 [5 favorites]


Not only did we do all of that, we raised a generation of children who, among them, are some of the most selfish and self-absorbed individuals, ever.

Actually, the parent who bore most of the responsibility for rearing me must have done an okay job because I have no intention of letting her worry about her old age.
posted by padraigin at 5:44 PM on April 10, 2013 [5 favorites]


subdee: "Raising kids is pretty expensive so I guess I'm not totally opposed to this."

As soon as we figure out a way for children to make an informed decision about being born and with free choice of to whom I'll be all over this. Until then having children remains firmly in the control of parents and the legal financial responsibilities incurred should be one way.
posted by Mitheral at 5:47 PM on April 10, 2013 [11 favorites]



In classical Greece, an important reason for designating children formally as bastards was to relieve them of filial duty.

Do you have a cite for that?


Xenophon's memoir on Socrates, IIRC
posted by ocschwar at 6:03 PM on April 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


I used to think that I was too irresponsible to have kids, so I never did.

Now I see- I'm too irresponsible not to!

j/k, by the time the dominoes fall (inherited liabilities! How is that a thing?) from grandma -> mom -> me and sis, there probably won't be much left that needs looking after.
posted by hap_hazard at 6:05 PM on April 10, 2013


Good old AARP - they can be counted on to give old people something to fear day by day, the point being, of course, that the Grand Savior AARP will soon issue a P-L-A-N to change the situation, either by lobbying for a new law or by making a new form of "insurance" available - at very low cost - to cover you.

Whew.
posted by aryma at 6:48 PM on April 10, 2013


I want to repeat this for truth as it says it all AFA I'm concerned:
Well, we could go down this road, spreading the pain of medical bankruptcy right down the generations to cripple families in perpetuity, or we could just get some goddamned national healthcare in this stupid country.

I would off myself before I'd go into a home knowing it would bankrupt my child. It would be nice if I didn't have to consider that option because I lived in a country that understood medical care as a right and not some extra special options package for the rich.


Mr. BlueHorse and I have a DNR--and the kids damn well know to respect it.

Poor grandma is going to "accidentally" overdose on pain meds before she's allowed to bankrupt her entire extended family. This will happen, and it will be tacitly encouraged at all levels of society.

And just exactly is wrong with this? If poor grandma is in that much pain that she's on pain meds and miserable, then Let. Me. Go. Quality of life means a hellava lot to me. Make me comfortable, then let me die. Or allow me the dignity of choice, if it comes to that. How many people here are saying that they would willingly die rather than put their kids through bankruptcy? We need more palliative care and fewer heroic hijinks. A knee replacement at 65 for an active person, sure. A knee replacement at 75? Why? Unless this person is up and in extremely good health, what's the point?
posted by BlueHorse at 7:05 PM on April 10, 2013 [7 favorites]


Yowser, no one said the Baby Boomers were doing this to you. As a Baby Boomer, I'll swim out to sea to the point of no return before I expect my kid to pay these costs. These appear to be some pretty old laws. The issue is, once again, corporate attack on individuals in an attempt to ensure the bankruptcy of the younger generation.
posted by etaoin at 7:14 PM on April 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am really thanking my dad, who was a Depression survivor and WWII vet, for his foresight in setting up for my mother. From a combination of good luck, hard work, and better pension choices than I've ever seen, he set her up so that she probably will make it through the end of her life without bankrupting herself or me.

Even knowing that, I had an adrenaline surge when I read the above the fold part of this post. I can only imagine how people who don't have the cushion my dad ensured my mother would have feel.
posted by immlass at 7:20 PM on April 10, 2013


That said, nightmares end. The real challenge is going to be able to shake off the screwy, selfish values that we have inculcated, and have further taught to too-many of our spoiled, selfish children. Should be an interesting next couple of decades, wouldn't you say?

Nonsense. I could argue along the generational fault line and point out that, for a sizable portion of my generation (X), there were no parents around to spoil us because they were too selfish to be bothered with the job, leaving us to be raised by the same people who'd raised them.

But that would be a shallow, emotionally-satisfying explanation of what's really at the root of these problems. Not a starting point for beginning the real work of sorting out the mess that our culture's become.

Besides, the issue here is that previous generations of leaders made a promise to provide us with certain minimal guarantees for our future security, as long as we agreed to do our part and work to put money into the system, and we rightly developed our expectations and plans around those promises.

Part of the problem is that contemporary politicians behave as if they aren't bound by the promises and commitments made by the leaders that preceded them, even when it comes to their own people. They don't seem to see themselves as part of an ongoing project and society transmitted from one generation to the next, with all the complex responsibilities and duties that entails. They see themselves as isolated individuals, in a world in which society is a fiction and there is no such thing as the public good or the public interest, and that's the legacy of modern "conservatism."

Guys like my dad, who sue their own parents on trumped up disability claims (when no one else would even give them a job anymore based on history) just so they can fill up the mobile home they wisely invested part of the settlement in with rental furniture in order blow the rest of their loot that much more efficiently. With his confederate flag still flying (I'm sure) over whatever trailer he lives in now, are that legacy.

Other factors: Appetite (greed) for new experiences and a desire to put immediate gratification and comfort above all else--coincidentally, no doubt, messages our media landscape constantly bombards us with to move product--are also culprits. Spoiled children have got nothing to do with it, from what I've seen. It's amazing what many of these kids have done with their lives considering the crap so many of them got from their useless parents.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:25 PM on April 10, 2013 [13 favorites]


I'm surprised by the states where this is in law. This is a regressive tax if ever there was one.
posted by NailsTheCat at 7:35 PM on April 10, 2013


How about requiring parents have the foresight to have a living will and maybe a little life insurance to take care of themselves when they ship off to the great beyond, Huh?

Since no one else seems to have mentioned it yet I'll point out that it's possible for people to get long-term care insurance to cover the non-medical nursing home costs that aren't covered by Medicare or other plans.

Luckily for me, the family tendency towards hoarding and saving every single empty coffee can and glass jar and cool whip container, just in case they're needed for something, also extends to the kind of suspenders-and-a-belt need to prepare for every eventuality so that they had all of this stuff arranged and had made sure I knew all the details and where all the paperwork was before they even turned sixty.
posted by XMLicious at 7:37 PM on April 10, 2013


I may be alone in this, but I will gladly foot the bill for anything that will make my parents' lives better as they grow older and near death. I am profoundly grateful and humbled by the degree to which my parents have sacrificed their livelihoods and incomes to make my life what it is right now, and I will never forgive myself if I can't give back to them as much as if not more than they've given to me. If that means I need to go into debt to ensure their comfort and safety, then I will, because the alternative would break my heart.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 8:26 PM on April 10, 2013 [13 favorites]


I may be alone in this, but I will gladly foot the bill for anything that will make my parents' lives better as they grow older and near death. I am profoundly grateful and humbled by the degree to which my parents have sacrificed their livelihoods and incomes to make my life what it is right now

As much as I dislike my parents and froth at the mouth at the prospect of having to support either of them, your comment is very touching. Hopefully all the good parents in the world are fortunate enough to have children like you.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 9:12 PM on April 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


These Birds of a Feather: I may be alone in this, but I will gladly foot the bill for anything that will make my parents' lives better as they grow older and near death. I am profoundly grateful and humbled by the degree to which my parents have sacrificed their livelihoods and incomes to make my life what it is right now, and I will never forgive myself if I can't give back to them as much as if not more than they've given to me. If that means I need to go into debt to ensure their comfort and safety, then I will, because the alternative would break my heart.

Sure, why not? Go so far into debt that you can't ever afford to have children of your own. That'll be the snake eating its own tail.

In all seriousness, someone above quoted that both of their parents cost $3000/month each to take care of, for $6000/month total. That is literally over 4 times what I make, and I know a lot of people who are holding on worse than I am. People cannot afford to do this, even if they want to.
posted by Mitrovarr at 9:24 PM on April 10, 2013 [11 favorites]


I just want to know exactly who our corporate masters think will be buying their products in 2045, when the Student Loan Generation begins to turn 65 and their Social Security statements are still being garnished to pay for a generation of non-dischargable can kicking.
posted by T.D. Strange at 9:27 PM on April 10, 2013 [7 favorites]


Well, Mitrovarr, I neither want kids nor can have any, so that's not really an issue, and I wasn't commenting on what other people can or cannot afford to do. I was stating that I personally will figure out how to afford the longterm care of my parents, because for me, that is an expense I am 100% willing to take on if I have to or need to. That's what is going to be the best fit for me. You don't have to if you can't, don't want to, or see no reason to.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 9:42 PM on April 10, 2013


These Birds of a Feather: Well, Mitrovarr, I neither want kids nor can have any, so that's not really an issue, and I wasn't commenting on what other people can or cannot afford to do. I was stating that I personally will figure out how to afford the longterm care of my parents, because for me, that is an expense I am 100% willing to take on if I have to or need to. That's what is going to be the best fit for me. You don't have to if you can't, don't want to, or see no reason to.

Would your parents actually want you to ruin your life to help them, though? That's what it might come down to. You could be on the hook for $50-100k a year for years.
posted by Mitrovarr at 9:53 PM on April 10, 2013


And the Baby Boomers manage one final indignity on their progeny.

Look, as as society the US is finally getting a grip on racism, sexism, homophobia et all, so these are less and less useful as lightning rods to distract you from what the actual ruling classes inflict on you. Don't let them use generational conflict instead to get the people actually making these decisions off the hook.
posted by MartinWisse at 11:03 PM on April 10, 2013 [9 favorites]


My mom and I haven't always been on good terms and she is disabled but I will be damned if I send her off to a nursing home unless I am incapable of providing her care. Same goes for my father though he is not disabled. I am strongly against the whole American idea of putting our elderly out of sight and out of mind.
posted by Malice at 11:39 PM on April 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yowser, no one said the Baby Boomers were doing this to you. As a Baby Boomer, I'll swim out to sea to the point of no return before I expect my kid to pay these costs.

The baby boomers have ALWAYS said stuff like this. They were ethical, exploratory, non-judgemental, environmental, aware, ... until they it not longer suited them.
posted by rr at 11:41 PM on April 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


So, let me get this straight. My dad VOLUNTEERED to fight for this country in WWII and did so putting himself at considerable personal risk, for absolutely no promised reward, and now, since he was simply lucky enough to not be killed or handicapped in said duty, the government of this country thinks my siblings and me should be on the hook for his elder care that he negotiated with a private corporate entity?

In any circumstances other than my own, I would be furious, but I guess my father was "wise enough" to die in 1996.

All I can say is, "Bless you, dad, for all you and mom did for all of us. You're both heroes in my book!"

and...

Thank fucking god he didn't live to see what a shit storm the USA has degenerated into. When I was much younger, I always wondered why he hated that "sonofabitch Reagan" with such a fiery passion, but now it's crystal clear to me.

My sincere sympathies to those of you who will get snared into further debt because of this madness.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 12:46 AM on April 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


aryma, the AARP is a membership organization. They survey like crazy and I hardly think they're making up threats: the threats are very real and on many different fronts. Plust, National Review hates them, which is an endorsement in my house.

Wisconsin does not have a Filial Support Law.
...
I wouldn't be surprised if the Republican dominated state government passed one in the next few years.


Indeed, during the previous session they already passed a law making it more difficult for family members to sue nursing homes when their relative dies -- so try to imagine how that suggests the direction of the flow of campaign donations.

Anyway, I'm living this right now. We just had to take my dad home from the dementia care facility because my parents' insurance is capped at $4000 a month and the home was now charging $5600 (based on an activities of daily living score, as these things are). The way his dementia came on, with my mom working, my nieces and nephew they were raising still very dependent, and three ramshackle rental properties, there was no possibilty of doing a Medicaid spend-down/asset depletion that wouldn't impoverish the rest of us (the property is supposed to go to me, mostly). As it is we're managing bankruptcy and in-home dementia care while I try to get the business profitable (it never was, although it easily could have been, long story), which is as nightmarish as it sounds. I can't imagine how many fewer options we would have had without long-term-care insurance aside from Medicaid, but then in the end it has done us less good than it might have.

Now, we already have one nursing home claim that was pre-bankruptcy, and we basically screwed them out of some $18K, and now the second one has another $20K (or maybe closer to $30K once they get around to suing) that's post-bankruptcy and unavoidable debt. I have some sympathy, as a business owner myself, and a landlord (which makes it a very similar proposition), with people skipping out and leaving you with your own bills to pay. I also have great sympathy for the already-underpaid CNAs who gave my father exemplary (for the most part) care during his stay, and know that people skipping out is one reason they stay underpaid.

In one sense, therefore, I am not at all surprised these laws exist and that they are going to be enforced when people do try to game the system by protecting/transferring assets and doing things like move to Greece. I'm sure there are nursing homes undeserving, in their own way, of this power, but happily I don't really know them. The bills we have I'd gladly pay if possible (and in the long run, it will have to be). In some ways, though, this is a rehash of the estate tax for the lower middle classes (lower than that and you're on Medicaid anyway; higher than that and you have some insurance). Obviously the 1% can get out there and change the laws so that they do NOT have the needs of society visited on their assets, but the 99%, or 47%, will not have such political capability and will likely lose out, AARP notwithstanding.
posted by dhartung at 12:55 AM on April 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Jesus, this thread is depressing.
posted by zardoz at 4:15 AM on April 11, 2013 [5 favorites]


If they start to seriously enforce these laws voters are going to freak out and force a change.

Oh haha that is hilarious. Sure they will.
posted by headnsouth at 5:00 AM on April 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Everyone foaming at the mouth to lynch Boomers for these laws need to take a breath and understand these laws are products of the first few decades of the 20th century, before the Boomers were even born, and have roots going back to the early colonies and even further back to English law.

These laws probably made some sense back when they were made, given that people didn't live long and their final days were not spent hooked to computers and machines of every description, meant to prolong life as long as possible, with an army of specialists trooping through the room all day. It was probably very rare that someone racked-up an exorbitant medical bill so late in life.

I suspect the reason this is coming to light now is that, as Boomers enter their declining years and need assistance, their finances run headlong into the fact that a huge chunk of the elder-care industry does not accept Medicaid. And, it's breath-taking just how quickly the savings of even the most frugal of Boomer will be wiped-out by a care facility. The resurgence of these laws is very likely industry-driven, and not some nefarious scheme hatched by Boomers to screw their kids.

You, too, will eventually be where the Boomers are today, in need of assisted-care or worse...And most of you will likely not have the requisite mountain of cash saved to deal with it either.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:03 AM on April 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


In Pennsylvania, your parent must have abandoned you for at least 10 years before you reached age 18.

Where is this arbitrary ten years coming from? So if your parent only abandoned you for eight years, you're still on the hook for them?
posted by corb at 5:09 AM on April 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


I really miss my parents. They died too young and my son will never know them. I hate feeling grateful that they are gone because of crap like this. I hate being afraid my still-alive and wonderful inlaws will inadvertently torpedo our future through no fault of their own. People on their side tend to live into their 90s. Texas apparently doesn't have these laws but I have about three more decades of time when they might decide to write them. Not to mention the fear of my only child being on the hook for the two of us.
posted by emjaybee at 5:28 AM on April 11, 2013


Well, I was planning to wait until around 80 y.o. to try all those illicit drugs I was certain would kill me shamefully while young...

"Good news, kids, Mom's chasing the dragon a lot sooner than we planned."
posted by _paegan_ at 5:28 AM on April 11, 2013 [9 favorites]


These Birds of a Feather: I was stating that I personally will figure out how to afford the longterm care of my parents, because for me, that is an expense I am 100% willing to take on if I have to or need to.

On a macro level it makes more sense to spread the cost amongst many people. There is no net benefit to society to your being thousands of dollars in debt. If your parents are eligible for a social program such as medicare, that is what they should do.

InsertNiftyNameHere: My dad VOLUNTEERED to fight for this country in WWII and did so putting himself at considerable personal risk, for absolutely no promised reward

Are you sure about this? My grandpa was also in WWII (he was drafted, but I don't think that matters), he was not disabled because of the war, and he still qualifies for VA benefits (his assets had to be below a certain level first). See a lawyer, they can help you through the application process.
posted by desjardins at 6:29 AM on April 11, 2013



Malice: My mom and I haven't always been on good terms and she is disabled but I will be damned if I send her off to a nursing home unless I am incapable of providing her care.

You can't just shove them off into a nursing home anyway. The nursing home has to accept them. There are often waiting lists, so the people who need the most care (and who can pay) are accepted first. My grandfather had to wait months past when he really should have had full time care, just because there was no place for him to go. Grandma is/was too sick to take care of him, and my mom's not a medical professional.

I just spent several days with my grandparents. It's exhausting, and I didn't even provide any medical care. I had to be constantly on guard so they didn't hurt themselves, and I had to be responsible for making all their decisions since either they couldn't understand what was going on or couldn't remember from one moment to the next. I have no idea how I could do that and still hold down a job.

People talk about The Old Days when families took care of their elderly relatives in their homes, but they're not considering three important things: people used to die a lot sooner, most women did not work outside of the home, and the overall cost of living was lower. There was no effective way to treat a lot of medical ailments back in The Old Days - people just suffered through it until they died. Now, we have ways to treat them - if you can afford it.
posted by desjardins at 6:29 AM on April 11, 2013 [7 favorites]


InsertNiftyNameHere, sorry, I just reread your post and saw that your father has already passed. My condolences.
posted by desjardins at 6:30 AM on April 11, 2013


You, too, will eventually be where the Boomers are today, in need of assisted-care or worse...And most of you will likely not have the requisite mountain of cash saved to deal with it either.

Boomers' kids have much less structural opportunity and will have much less wealth the Boomers had (and still have). However, we should acknowledge that for many Boomers' kids (though by no means all) much of that wealth was spent on us (or, at least, we had a part in enjoying it.)

I just want to know exactly who our corporate masters think will be buying their products in 2045, when the Student Loan Generation begins to turn 65 and their Social Security statements are still being garnished to pay for a generation of non-dischargable can kicking.

Obviously, loan servicers and medical collections companies need to get to work on Intergenerational Opportunity Responsibility laws so our own children can be presented with a payment schedule upon delivery, for their share of their grandparents' care and their parents' educations. I'm sure we can work out a fair interest structure for their initial 18 or 22 year deferment (the latter perhaps linked to enrollment in the Higher Education Lifetime Indenture Program). It's the new American Way.

Look, as as society the US is finally getting a grip on racism, sexism, homophobia et all, so these are less and less useful as lightning rods to distract you from what the actual ruling classes inflict on you. Don't let them use generational conflict instead to get the people actually making these decisions off the hook.

I tend to agree, but still, one of these things is not like the other.
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:38 AM on April 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


In 2007, it was going to cost my mother $23k a month out of pocket to keep my (very disabled, on a ventilator) dad alive in a nursing home once the insurance cut him off and kicked him out of the hospital. Oh yeah, and it was double that for the first month (what, for first and last month's rent?). This is why after years of "I can't let him go!", she finally agreed to let him die.

I can in no way afford to take care of my mother on this level either. Especially since she is shopping herself into oblivion.
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:31 AM on April 11, 2013


People talk about The Old Days when families took care of their elderly relatives in their homes, but they're not considering three important things: people used to die a lot sooner, most women did not work outside of the home, and the overall cost of living was lower. There was no effective way to treat a lot of medical ailments back in The Old Days - people just suffered through it until they died. Now, we have ways to treat them - if you can afford it.

Also, I believe because of this that if someone's life could be extended due to lifesaving advances, even if everyone wants them to stay in the home and not get them, you can be indited for elder abuse, even if the elder themselves says they don't want the treatments.
posted by corb at 7:32 AM on April 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


n 2007, it was going to cost my mother $23k a month out of pocket to keep my (very disabled, on a ventilator) dad alive in a nursing home once the insurance cut him off and kicked him out of the hospital. Oh yeah, and it was double that for the first month (what, for first and last month's rent?). This is why after years of "I can't let him go!", she finally agreed to let him die.

I predict we're going to see a lot fewer "I can't let him/her go" statements once people are on the hook for the costs of those they can't let go. DNR's are going to be much more enforceable and more heeded. And a lot fewer last-ditch medical procedures aimed at eking out a few more months of life. And more death-with-dignity laws like Oregon's passed in other states. Too bad a set of inhumane, taxpayer-reaming laws such as these would be the ones to make death more dignified, if it does happen.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 7:40 AM on April 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


My paternal grandmother (who is now deceased) had a DNR that was ignored. I don't know all of the circumstances, but she was brought into the ER with a heart attack and was resuscitated. She had a myriad of problems, including a vascular disease that made her blind, incontinent and unable to walk. She was ready to go for about three years before she actually went.

What do you do if someone's miserable but you can't perform assisted suicide? (Even if it was legal here, she was devoutly Catholic so that was a non-starter.) My 85 year old grandfather is similarly miserable, but it's not like he's on a ventilator so you can't just pull the plug. Withdrawing care (medication) would make him more miserable in the short term and might take awhile to kill him.

So what happens when a DNR doesn't really apply? Next time he's severely dehydrated from the flu, don't give him saline solution? Don't give him antibiotics, just let pneumonia run its course? Stop giving him insulin and let him go into a diabetic coma?
posted by desjardins at 8:59 AM on April 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


saulgoodman: What happens if the parent is in a state with filial support laws but the child is not? Also, I assume material and emotional abandonment excuse people under these laws? I mean, is this going to end up making adults have to pay for the care of their deadbeat parents?

According to this article, that won't stop them from trying. It seems nothing will. In my research for this post I even found someone on the hook for his uncle in the case where the uncle was childless and the nephew was determined to be next of kin. It's madness.
posted by thrasher at 9:32 AM on April 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


So, one thing I'm not clear on :

Parent lives in State A that does not have filial support laws. Child lives in State B, which does have filial support laws. Could the child be sued? I'm guessing not, since it's the state that does the suing, and in order to sue, that state has to have filial support laws on the books, correct?
posted by Afroblanco at 10:12 AM on April 11, 2013


If they start to seriously enforce these laws voters are going to freak out and force a change.

You might be right. Just anecdotally, my parents, who are FOX News/Limbaugh devotees (I love them, nevertheless, and fully intend to take care of them in their dotage if I can), like many of their fellow conservatives are rather hard done by economically and I am 210% certain that they feel the same way many people in this thread do and they've expressed it many times: they'd rather die than burden their children.

I have my doubts that the evildoers are actually going to get away with this one. It seems like it's going to be pretty difficult to twist around into something palatable to their usual minions, much less anyone else who isn't filthy rich.
posted by Jess the Mess at 12:18 PM on April 11, 2013


I always feel a bit creeped out when people look at all the scientific advances we've made in life expectancy as a species, and then look at the artificially hyper-inflated cost of privatized health care and go "Yep, there's your problem, people are living too long!"
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 12:38 PM on April 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


People talk about The Old Days when families took care of their elderly relatives in their homes, but they're not considering three important things: people used to die a lot sooner, most women did not work outside of the home, and the overall cost of living was lower.

My husband is 44. His paternal grandmother lived with his family until she died, his maternal grandmother lived with her son's family until she died-- both women's husbands having died first and both women lived on into their 80's. His family was Southern and poor.

My family was Midwestern and middle class. Both of my grandmothers died in nursing homes in their 90's. I was told by him that having the grandparent in the home is "the Southern way." Perhaps this will become "the American way" once again.

My parents were both lucky enough to retire with excellent pensions AND they both bought California real estate many decades ago; my dad's San Francisco home is worth over a million dollars. However, I fully expect to inherit nothing. I am well aware of the high cost of medicine in the last years of life.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 12:42 PM on April 11, 2013


I was told by him that having the grandparent in the home is "the Southern way." Perhaps this will become "the American way" once again.

I suppose it is. Living in Texas it's incredibly common to have grandparents/parents living in the home. My grandfather lives with my mother though he often cares for her because she is in a wheelchair (they help each other out really), and my grandmother lives with my aunt. My brother's wife's parents and brothers and sisters all lived on the same piece of property until the parents passed away.

So on and so forth.

And this is from people who don't have a lot of money, if any. Not saying it's right for everyone, but it's certainly a better option than being forced to pay 3k a month in nursing home fees, unless you have the money and that's what they want.

I don't agree with the bill, I'm just so surprised at the overwhelming voice of "oh hell no I'm not paying a dime for my elderly parents" responses here. Shocked really.
posted by Malice at 12:56 PM on April 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Malice, many of us have very poor to no relationship with one or both of our parents. Just scan AskMe human relations for stories of abuse, psychological disorders, alcoholism, "deadbeat-ism," absence, the list goes on.
posted by thrasher at 1:56 PM on April 11, 2013 [10 favorites]


Oh man, $3,000 per month; what a deal! The average private pay rate in Oregon is over $7,600/mo. per person, and of course it will be more or less depending on the level and type of care required. Interestingly, the Medicaid rates for care are usually much less than the private pay rates because Medicaid ostensibly sets them based on the actual cost of providing care. Mostly this just means it becomes almost impossible to place someone in long-term care once they are already on Medicaid because it cuts into the profit margins of the care facilities.

Anyway, good luck trying to squeeze me for more than say $1,000/mo. without putting me out on the streets, and have fun going after my non-existent estate for large lump sums. This story is a troubling but I'm guessing the vast majority of the population will not be at risk for these kind of collection actions. If you're worried and interested in planning ahead, maybe look into getting some long-term care insurance.
posted by SpaceBass at 2:18 PM on April 11, 2013


Malice: I don't agree with the bill, I'm just so surprised at the overwhelming voice of "oh hell no I'm not paying a dime for my elderly parents" responses here. Shocked really.

Well, my point was less that people shouldn't, and more that people can't. Medical care has ballooned in cost to a ridiculous level, and most younger (<30) people have been wrecked by the economy. You can't reasonably expect a person to cover the cost of their parents' care when that care costs 3x their total income, and they already have a huge pile of student loans and no health insurance.
posted by Mitrovarr at 2:28 PM on April 11, 2013 [8 favorites]


I'm not one of the people Mitrovarr mentions, I'm not under 30, and yet I have to respond "oh hell no" to the idea that I might be forced to pay for my parents' healthcare choices.

Note the important word "choices", specifically and more accurately "their choices."

For example, my mother chose to spend $45,000 earlier this year on a shoulder replacement. She's in her 70s. It is totally her choice, and I'm happy that she's recovered from the painful and expensive operation. She spent what a selfish person would consider part of their inheritance to do so.

Yet, let's imagine that there was no inheritance to be gained. I've never really thought I'd get much from my land-owning (classically) middle-class parents. I certainly haven't planned on it. Let's imagine that by getting that operation, she saddled me with her debt.

How is that fair or reasonable or just? I had no say, she just had the operation. Why should I have to pay for her choice? Really, why?

You can be "shocked" all you like that people are reluctant to pay for other peoples' choices, but I think it is a quite reasonable position.

This is all beside the main point, which is that I simply could not pay. I would not pay even if I could. It isn't my debt, and it should not be. If she'd worked with me, if she needed my (pathetic) credit to get approved for the elective procedure, that would be an entirely different proposition. But she didn't, and so her debt is not mine. Period, as far as I am concerned. Sue away, without debtors prison I have nothing to lose.
posted by Invoke at 3:25 PM on April 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


I just went and looked up the actual statute in my state(PDF).

Fun fact: it is a class 2 misdemeanor! But that's not as bad as some states' statutes, which include the obligation not only to financially support indigent parents, but also siblings.
posted by winna at 5:20 PM on April 11, 2013


winna's link seems to answer another question...

If a relative so liable does not reside in this state and has no estate or debts due him within the state by means of which the liability can be enforced against him, the other relatives shall be liable as provided by this section, but a relative shall not be compelled to receive the indigent person in his own home.

So it appears that I was wrong above in that the state can go after you even if you're estranged, but they can only go after your assets in that state. That would presumably include your claim to inheritance, that obviously being in the state where the indigent parent resides, but the obvious remedy if you live in one of these states and want to be free of any possibility of this obligation is to live in a different state and be sure you have no assets in the state where your potentially indigent parents live.

I also love how West Virginia sticks it to first the kids, then the siblings, then to Mom. Something something serpent's tooth something.
posted by localroger at 7:06 PM on April 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, Florida, fortunately, doesn't have filial support laws... So I guess there's another good reason I'm stuck in Florida and wouldn't ever want to become fabulously wealthy or famous. (Well, hmm, maybe I could still get fabulously wealthy and famous in secret...)
posted by saulgoodman at 8:00 PM on April 11, 2013


which include the obligation not only to financially support indigent parents, but also siblings.

Oh thank god I don't live in West Virginia. My alcoholic, itinerant brother is the only one I really need to worry about. He has spent about half his adult life in jail and his other half scrounging. He is now over 50 and I haven't a clue as to what will happen to him.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 5:55 AM on April 12, 2013


Malice, many of us have very poor to no relationship with one or both of our parents. Just scan AskMe human relations for stories of abuse, psychological disorders, alcoholism, "deadbeat-ism," absence, the list goes on.

Yeah, obviously people who are not on good (or any) terms with their parents aren't really the comments I was talking about.
posted by Malice at 7:00 PM on April 12, 2013


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