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Reply with quote  #16 
Sue - yeah, it makes sense that one state can't enforce their law on the resident of another state.  I guess.  Although the law doesn't make sense to me.  Can children really be made to be financially responsible for their parents??  It just seems incredible.  I guess I need to look it up...


Reply with quote  #17 

I wonder how far these laws go, does it cover step parents, parents-in-law? Also if these laws were enforced, would people take it to court, could they be unconstitutional?  I hope no-one ever has to get involved with this kind of situation. I, for one do not think this is fair.

Reply with quote  #18 
According to the financial advisor at the NH, since I signed the papers as POA for my dad at admittance, I am financially responsible to pay his NH bill (if his personal monies run out) if he stays long enough to become private pay!

That is the first time any NH has told me that! I always thought that I was only responsible to pay his bill with his own personal funds. She said that the NH can and will attach a lien on our own house to get the money.

That is another question I will have for the expensive lawyer I will see at the end of the month! If this actually true, I do not want my dad's POA!

I don't want my husband, daughter and I to have to live in the cardboard box community under the I-75 bridge just because my dad has lived high on the hog! I am sorry, but we do not have $4,500.00 left over at the end of each month to pay his bill! If I had that kind of money, I'd send my dad and his wife on a cruise...a long one.

Reply with quote  #19 
Hi Kathy -

I've never heard that power of attorney means you have to use your own funds (of course, I never heard of filial responsibility laws either!)

It's possible that the nh thinks it can go after your assets because you signed the admitting form.

I made a similar mistake several years ago - my mother fell and broke her hip.  I signed the admitting form.  My aunt later told me never to do that again - they have to get my mother to sign - or they can go after my stuff (two of my cousins are lawyers).  Now, this was in NYS - it probably varies from state to state. 

When you have your appt. with the lawyer, ask about this.  Maybe the lawyer can figure out a way to get your  personal finances out of the picture (not including the house - that's another issue).  Get a big bang for your legal buck.


Reply with quote  #20 
Oh my gosh,  If being POA makes us be responsable for our parents bills I agree I don't want to be POA.  I have never heard of that before. Every thing that I have done so far for my mom I always ask first if I sign will I be responsible and so far I'm told I am not.  Is it just for NH  and why would it be just for that.  Kathy I think we are all a bit worried about this now.

I have been doing my mom's bills for the last 3 years now and one time I had to find out something on my moms charge bill but they wouldn't give me that information unless they talked to my mom.  I was at mom's at the time so she told them it was ok to give me the information.  While I talked to them I asked them what I could do so I can get this info without my mom they said they would send out a release form for her to sign and then I can from that point get the information.  So we do that and a few weeks later I get a charge card in my name for my mom's account.  I called the bank and they reasured me I would not be responsible if I used it for her. So now I have her credit card in my name so I can get her scribs and anything else she needs.  THE bank kept telling me it is my moms responsibility to pay the account and that is why she had to be sure of who she allows this card.  I could go out and run it up if I was that type of person. 

Anyways I am now worried about the POA thing if we can get stuck. I think now we are holding our breath to hear what you found out Kathy.
Reply with quote  #21 
Hi Everyone,
I don't think these laws are fair, I don't know that they have been enforced, as of yet, I think someone will have to take it to court to see if it's constitutional. I am glad my state doesn't have those laws, and I feel badly for those in states with them. I think if the nursing home pushes it, in any state that has these laws. I think it's going to be you pay or go to court about it to challenge the law. I don't know that it has to do with being a POA, unless you live in a state having these laws. I also think that a lawyer is a good thing to get in these cases as people in some of these eldercare places, don't know the law themselves and say things that they have no reason to say. I guess you have to find a lawyer and hope his fees don't get out of line either. The thing is I think in some of these states the law also means you are responsible for your adult children, so I am wondering where this is going, and when is it ever going to be that we all are responsible for ourselves and don't have to bail anyone else out.  Now Don't take what I said as true, because I am not an attorney, but it is something we should all be aware of, who we may someday be responsible for other than ourselves.
Reply with quote  #22 
A POA does not make you personally respsonsible, it only allows you to spend a person's own funds on their behalf. POAs would become obsolete if that were the case. Just because the NH said you are responsible does not make it true. They may be trying to scare you into not pressing the issue if it arises. Read everything before you sign, in your name or your parent's. (Or course, we all now this, but it's amazing how many do not). If you did sign a contract that makes you liable, that's another matter, but has nothing to do with the POA. 

The NH may try to collect and try to get a lien on your house thinking you will pay them rather than lawyers. Do not believe everything you are told by places that want your money. You need to check with with your state district attorney's office or an elder affairs department.

Reply with quote  #23 

I know you are correct in most cases, but the states who have these filial laws may enforce them, you are correct that an attorney is needed. Any new posters should read the first post on this thread, it names the states that has these laws.
Mike Gamble
Reply with quote  #24 
Regarding a financial POA ... I'll pass along the instructions my mother's elder law attorney gave to me.

When you pay bills, sign checks, sign admittance forms for nursing homes, etc., as your loved one's POA, you must be VERY careful. The purpose of a POA is to allow the person named as POA to perform nearly all financial transactions on behalf of the person granting the POA (the principal), using the funds that belong to the principal. If done correctly, you will not become financial responsible for paying your loved one's bills.

However, many POA's are not aware of the correct way to use their POA. That is, many simply sign their own names. If you do only that, you WILL become personally financially responsible when you sign a contract on behalf of your loved one. And yes, that means your loved one's nursing home (for example) can come after your funds and your house to pay your loved one's bills.

To avoid this problem, whenever you sign a check or enter into a contract as your loved one's POA, you MUST sign in the following manner:
Your Name, POA
Your Loved One's Name
If "POA" and your loved one's name are not there, the law assumes that you are acting on your own despite the fact that you have a piece of paper that says you are the POA, and that you intended to act as a POA. In this case, according to the law, you will become financial responsible even though you didn't intend to do so.
Bottom line ... be very careful about accidentally becoming a co-signer for any of your loved one's debts, or signing any other type of document where you agree to become financially responsible for him or her. If you were to become a co-signer or become financially responsible, you will be legally obligated to use your own money to pay your loved one's bills.
Finally, POA's are ignored by Medicare and Social Security. Instead, they have their own method of handling the problem. You will find more information in the September 2006 issue of our newsletter, Aging Solutions, in Caregiver Tip #2, "Social Security and Medicare - Your Power of Attorney Means Nothing to Them."

Our recommendation: Because the laws regarding Powers of Attorney do vary from state to state, consult with a competent attorney who specializes in elder law (not an attorney who claims they can handle everything). While their fees may seem somewhat expensive, they could be one of the best "investments" you will ever make. A competent elder law attorney will help you avoid more costly problems down the road, and will help alleviate many of the other frustrations that seem to come hand-in-hand with being a caregiver.

Regarding filial responsibility laws ... The subject never came up in my discussions with my mother's attorney. That doesn't mean they don't exist. While I must say that I am not an attorney, I believe that filial laws may have been part of our nation's legal history and, even though they may still be on the books in many states, they have become inoperative in today's society, as have many other old-fashioned laws. For example, many states still have antiquated debtor's prison laws on the books, but they are not enforced.

Perhaps what some people believe to be filial laws are, in fact, the confiscatory laws and regulations regarding transferring assets before someone becomes eligible for Medicaid (MediCal in California). These are very real and can force family members to use assets transferred to them by a parent to pay for that parent's care in a nursing home, even after the death of the parent. You will find more information in the June 2006 issue of our newsletter, Aging Solutions, in "Caregiver Tip of the Month, Gifts from a Senior to His or Her Children."

Our recommendation: Make an elder care attorney an integral part of your caregiving team. By doing so, you will avoid a lot of the frustrations and pitfalls that can arise for family caregivers.

Mike Gamble, Publisher
Aging Parents and Elder Care

Reply with quote  #25 


The laws I was told about were supposedly enacted between 1996 and 2005.

So whatever they are called now, these are pretty recent.  I appreciate the advice.
Reply with quote  #26 

Thanks for posting all of this.  I am going to be very careful when signing anything on behalf of my mother from now one, I guess even checks.  I will make note of what the checks are for on the check too. 

Here's some interesting info on Filial Responsibiity from a website

The Legal Responsibility of Adult Children to Care for Indigent Parents
Brief Analysis

No. 521

Tuesday, July 12, 2005
Get Adobe ReaderRead Article as PDF | Get Adobe Reader

Currently, 30 states have filial responsibility statutes that establish a duty for adult children to care for their indigent elderly parents. When enforced, the statutes can require the adult child to reimburse state programs or institutions that have cared for the indigent parent with either a one-time contribution or installment payments. Today, there is no uniform federal filial responsibility statute, and indeed, it may be difficult to enact one; but if even a few states began to more systematically enforce their laws, their action could help reduce the explosive growth of Medicaid’s long-term care benefit.

Historically, filial responsibility laws have rarely been enforced, and in some states have not been enforced at all. Since the 1960s, federal law [United States Code Title 42, §1396a(a)(17)(D)] has prevented the states from considering the financial responsibility of any individual (except a spouse) in determining the eligibility of an applicant or recipient of Medicaid or other poverty programs. Besides the politically sensitive nature of filial responsibility laws, this is probably the major reason the laws are not uniformly enforced.

Filial Responsibility and the States. U.S. filial responsibility statutes derive from England’s Elizabethan Poor Relief Act of 1601, which required the “father and grandfather and the mother and grandmother, and the children of every poor, blind, lame, and impotent person” to support that individual to the extent they were able. This English system for dealing with the poor and indigent was transplanted to the American colonies. The duty to care for parents is a purely statutorily created duty that does not exist in common law. Until statutes imposed the legal duty, supporting poor family members was considered a moral duty. The moral duty receded as society evolved, family life changed, and government created a variety of federal and state programs to meet the needs of the poor.

Who is poor enough to come under a filial statute’s purview? State statutes define indigent, poor and pauper in a variety of ways. However, to be poor does not require the elderly parent to be completely without resources. For example, in a 1959 New Jersey case (Pavlick v. Teresinski), where a mother sought support from her two sons, the court held that although she had a house and furniture, both were required for her shelter, and unless she received support from her sons she would become a public charge. Therefore, she was poor within the meaning of the state’s filial responsibility statute. More recently, a 1994 Pennsylvania case, Savoy v. Savoy, involved an elderly parent whose reasonable care and maintenance expenses exceeded her monthly Social Security income. The court found that she was indigent, making her relatives liable for support. So to be poor does not always mean completely broke, according to judicial interpretations of filial responsibility statutes

There is much more at this interesting website.  I don't think there's much fo worry about for now. 


Sammy Jo
Reply with quote  #27 
I attempted to place my mother in a NH 3 days ago but could not find a new local primary docter to take over for her in time.  She was being released from a skilled care facility and I was trying to make it a seamless transition so time was of the essence.  I do not have POA but still signed her name and  my name second on the forms as the social worker instructed.  After all of that,  I then found out no doctor was available to agree to being her primary so everything was put on hold and she had to go back to her home.  NOW I'm glad about the hold!  I'm not sure I understand Mr. Gamble's advice completely but I'm afraid to attempt to do this again. I merely wanted to sign her checks each month and that would be the extent of my responsibility.  Then I thought medicaid would kick in in 2 years when her funds were exhausted.  Now, I'm scared because I will soon have to face this issue again!

Reply with quote  #28 

I think that social worker was way out of line asking you to sign the papers without a POA and asking you to sign you mother's name.  Doesn't seem legal to me at all.  Its good it did not happen.  Sounds like there was more interest in getting an admit than doing things right.

I am glad I have POA for my mother, because there were a few times she could not sign, and she does not have the mind of handle her finances well anymore, but I am definitely going to take Mr. Gamble's suggestions.
Reply with quote  #29 
Sammy Jo - I think the social worker was way out of line, also.  Signing someone else's name without legal authority is forgery.  Maybe he (or she) just assumed you had POA?   Mike's advice is valuable.


Reply with quote  #30 
Hi all~

Mike's advice is valuable and it is another good lesson learned, for me anyway.

When I signed my dad in the NH, the woman in admittance did not even have the papers prepared for me, but she said that I should sign my name and she would fill in the information later. I asked her if I should sign Kathy Servant POA Dad's name.  The woman told me "NO". I then told her that I did not want to sign any papers making me responsible for my dad's bill and that he had Medicare (20 days) and insurance (10 days)  that would cover 30 days of rehab totally.  She told me that I would be responsible regardless how I signed it and I had to sign it.

I feel totally betrayed by this woman and I feel stupid! My dad is coming home, if for no other reason to get me our of this nightmare! This situation has cost me way too many nights sleep and way too many tears. Oh yeah...he is coming home! This is the one time that I've wanted him to come home. He is coming home even if I have to carry him on my back!

I guess I will be taking care of him entirely until I can see that lawyer and see if she can get me out of this mess. At this point, I am willing to spend any amount of money to get some peace of mind.

I am getting really tired of being on the losing end of this problem. My dad and his wife began chipping away at me the day I was born and they will not be happy until the day there is nothing left of me.


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