In the August 2014 Financial Advisor magazine, there was an article that will make anyone with older parents want to consider meeting with their legal, tax and financial advisors. In 1994, a Pennsylvania court ruled that an indigent mother could sue her adult son to pay her overdue nursing home bills. Since that time, so-called “filial support” legislation has been spreading across the nation. The issue is usually not due to any family conflicts. It is just that the parent has depleted his or her assets and there are long term care bills remaining to be paid. It will be increasingly important that adult children not only make sure that their own long term care plan is in place, but also that their parents have financial resources available for long term care expenses. I don’t know whether Louisiana has such a law, but, regardless, there are other mechanisms in place to recover unpaid expenses. In the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Bill of 1993, there are rules that “compel state agencies to collect back funds they’ve expended on Medicaid services from families if they discover the families have assets available.” In New Hampshire, a loved one who has power of attorney can be held personally liable for unpaid bills.
There are some solutions. When and if a parent goes into a long term care facility or has home health care, it is important to document in advance who is financially responsible and to insure that there will be a regular accounting to prevent a backlog of unpaid bills. Staying current will make it easier to avoid problems. It is also important to plan ahead as a family. The children may want to purchase long term care coverage for their parents, if they don’t already have a plan. Having a “financial” discussion with your parents is also important, sooner rather than later. If dementia sets in before the discussion takes place, not only could there be a problem determining what assets are available, but obtaining signatures for any legal document may not be possible. These discussions can be awkward, but having the entire family involved may be helpful. Delegate responsibilities and have periodic meetings to make sure proper oversight is being provided. I think that not only will your parents appreciate your efforts, but your spouse and children will be more secure knowing that your retirement savings and/or emergency, college or household savings can’t be taken to pay delinquent long term care bills.
In 2 Timothy 4: “As for me, I am already being poured out as a libation, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” Until then, remember the words of a song by Meatloaf (which I have used before): “If only night were day, if only prayers were answered. Then we would hear God say: No matter what they tell you, no matter what they do, no matter what they teach you, what you believe is true. And I will keep you safe and strong and sheltered from the storm.” From the January 2014 Forward, “The church is called to be holy and believing, a Christ- modeling presence in the world that shines light into the darkness that surrounds. It is called to be the holy and see the holy, so that those looking and hoping can see the light and themselves be drawn to it.” May your prayers this day be answered, knowing that they are being heard.
Although this information has been gathered from sources believed to be reliable, it cannot be guaranteed. This material is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed or acted upon as individualized tax, legal or investment advice. FSC Securities Corp does not offer tax or legal advice. Securities, insurance and investment advisory services offered through FSC Securities Corporation, member FINRA/SIPC and a registered investment advisor 3416 North Blvd, Alexandria, LA 71301, (318) 448-3201. The views expressed are not necessarily the opinion of FSC Securities Corporation.