A civil law that has been in place since 1939 is rarely used, but as the cost of long-term care and nursing facilities keeps rising, some experts think it might get dusted off.
South Dakota is one of 29 states that have an adult child payment requirement, commonly known as a “filial law,” that speaks to the responsibility of one person or a group of people to pay for the housing, feeding, and care of family members, reports KSFY.com in its article, “Little-known law forces adult children to pay for nursing home care for parents.”
Elder law experts are taking a look at the idea of using that law as care facilities face the challenges of unpaid nursing home bills.
This filial law in the Mount Rushmore State permits nursing homes to sue the children of patients who don’t pay and makes no reference to whether the families have close relationships, or whether the adult child received any financial assets of the parent.
Advocates of the laws contend that, in certain situations, they give nursing homes a remedy to collect outstanding bills rather than writing off those debts as a loss. These losses can lessen a facility’s ability to provide quality care to all patients. The laws are most commonly enforced when an adult child was given money or assets or misappropriated money from a parent, prior to admission into a nursing home.
Some believe these filial laws uphold a general sentiment in law that there’s a moral responsibility of those who can afford to pay for a family member’s care to do so.
Nursing homes don’t want to be providing long-term care for people who have the ability to self-pay, especially if there’s been inappropriate behavior by an adult child.
There have been opponents in other states who have tried to overturn the laws, basing their arguments on the fact that the statutes are broad and could be applied inappropriately. Critics say that the law is poorly written and could have a negative impact on family members, who may have already exhausted their own resources in trying to care for aging parents.
Reference: KSFY.com (December 20, 2018) “Little-known law forces adult children to pay for nursing home care for parents”