Footing the bill for aging parents


Are adult children legally responsible to pay for their parents’ care? You may be surprised to learn that in 30 states, including California, there’s a law on the books that declares adult children have a duty to pay for care for their impoverished parents. Filial responsibility statutes, as they are called, require an adult child to reimburse state programs or institutions that have provided food, clothing, shelter and medical attention for their parents who no longer have enough funds to pay for themselves. Surprised? The statutes have a long history, dating back to England in the 1600s. They were adopted by the American colonies. In those times, they put into law what was considered a moral duty—that blood relatives take responsibility for supporting family members, including aging parents. In the 1930s, Social Security arrived, providing income for the majority of seniors in retirement. And in 1965, Medicare came along, with the intention of giving every senior access to...