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  • Writer's pictureKaren McPhail, RN, MSN

Liability Issues for Caregivers

I have had some recent questions regarding this topic and was thrilled to see this addressed online recently by Elizabeth Gray, Esq an elder care attorney in the Northern Va area.

Many family members become overwhelmed by the process of not only caring for a loved one at home, but in looking for memory care or skilled nursing that will meet their care and comfort needs. As a result many do not read the facility contracts well and sign on for personal liability without realizing until later. This is why I recommend that all my clients have assistance from an elder care attorney who can review contracts and provide guidance before signing. An Elder Care Attorney can be an amazing support and resource in many areas long term.

Take the time to read the information below!!! It will save you time, worry and heartache!


Recent online article posted by Ms. Gray:

Typically, children are not legally responsible to support their parents and the power of attorney doesn’t change this. However, children can take on this liability, sometimes unwittingly, under the documents they sign upon nursing home admission or commitments they may make to the nursing home. Further, some states have “filial responsibility” laws that do confer liability on the children. Usually these are old laws that are on the books but are not enforced. However, Pennsylvania’s filial responsibility law, 23 Pa.C.S. § 4603, is relatively new and may be enforced. To get a definite answer based on your circumstances and Pennsylvania law and practice, you will need to consult with a Pennsylvania elder law attorney.

To find one near you, in any state go to:


My input:

To clarify, filial responsibility laws outline adult children’s duty or responsibility to support their indigent parents.

To the best of my knowledge, the states with filial responsibility laws are: Alaska, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia.

If you have concerns or questions regarding filial responsibility it is best to speak with an elder care attorney sooner versus later!

Ensure that you have an open exchange with your parents about their financial situation before they enter into any facility agreements. Transparency of information is crucial! Be clear on how long they have in terms of funds from a private pay standpoint and begin Medicaid planning early on if this is a possibility down the road. Assistance from an elder care attorney is vital during the Medicaid application process to avoid missing dates or having difficulties due to filing issues. Understand clearly any long term care policies and limitations on coverage amounts, etc.

With healthcare changes being discussed we do not know exactly how Medicaid funding will change in the future. The path is unclear, so be prepared by having support, clear information, and guidance long term!

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