Some adult children all over the world struggle with it, while a few dread the question, “Do you have to take care of your aging parents?”. In my opinion, the problem is both moral and legal.
Did you know that you can be held responsible for the care of your elderly parent(s) in many states? Growing up in Nigeria, I was unaware such a law existed and could send somebody to jail for refusing to do what I thought was a natural obligation – taking care of a parent.
I still remember listening in on an exchange my father had with our eldest brother, ” I have no doubts you will take care of my absolute rights, or how would you explain your refusal to your colleagues? Would you be able to look them in the face again?” Please see this post.
During writing this article, I had the opportunity to look at the state of California filial responsibility law. And I learned that if you have the means, you are required to take care of your parents, the people that brought you to this world and, under tremendous pressure and inconveniences, nurtured you.
The purpose of this post is to bring to light parenting a parent, the laws guiding it, and where to get help if needed.
Filial Responsibility Laws
A filial responsibility law is the only law that can impose legal responsibility on an adult child (male or female) to care for an aging parent that lacks the wherewithal to do so himself.
During aging, many elderly parents run out of money and or the ability to care for themselves. Many countries would not just sit by and watch an aging adult suffer such indignity.
These countries have old-age facilities like long-term nursing homes, private facilities, etc., that will provide the needed help. The state or private facility will then go after an able son or daughter or pay the bills accumulated before death. I think it is noteworthy to mention here that more than thirty states in the U.S., including Puerto Rico, have passed these filial responsibility laws.
Parenting A Parent
I detailed the difficulties of parenting a parent here. It is not an easy task. But the love for your parent(s) will see you through.
Besides dealing with an older adult’s physical and emotional needs, you may find yourself confronted with lifestyle, medical, and financial issues. In my experience, a challenging part is parenting a person who, not long ago, was parenting you. Many find the role reversal challenging to execute. A healthy aging parent can drive you nuts with the assertion, “I know what I’m doing; I have been doing this all my life.”
Help Is Available
The financial strain on the state or private eldercare facility is much. Consider how much money a state can spend on one older person; it can run into thousands of dollars when you figured into the equation the cost of food, clothing, accommodation, medical needs, and health care.
Because of the high cost, they go after the able adult children to recoup all the expenditure. So it is best to get prepared for this eventuality.
There are many avenues to getting help to avoid facing a filial responsibility lawsuit. The first thing to do is being aware of and understanding the filial laws. If you are not, this post will be handy.
Consulting a lawyer, an estate lawyer, who will advise estate planning to protect your estate assets may be your second line of action.
If you know the financial burden that would come your way after the loved one passes away, find an appropriate time when he is still sane to discuss the financial responsibility. You might learn that your loved one was ahead of the game.
You might even discover your loved one has life insurance that would take care of all or part of that. Some adult children encourage their aging parents to afford it, to buy adequate life insurance. Besides, in the U.S., many support agencies would come to your aid in such situations.
I think it will be useful to start this section of the post with a beautiful council from Alexis Abramson, Ph.D., a lifestyle gerontologist. I urge you to read it.
Indeed, it is not easy to parent your parent, as described here. Note: This post discussed taking care of a parent – physical and mental wellbeing.
Filial laws don’t deal with debts. Your parent’s obligations are taken care of by the estate or written off by the company.
However, if the adult child is a cosigner of a loan, he/she will be liable when the parent dies.
Finally, awareness of this law, including starting on time to look for solutions, is key to avoiding facing the filial statutes and the courts.
I hope you enjoyed reading this post.
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