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Will you have to pay for your parents' health care costs?

Did you know that you may be responsible for paying your parents' medical bills and long-term care expenses? In certain circumstances, filial laws allow nursing homes and other types of care facilities to seek payments from you. If you live in Colorado but your parents live elsewhere, you may fall into that group.

What are filial responsibility laws?

Filial refers to the relationship between parents and children. Filial responsibility laws were based on "poor laws," which required children to pay for their destitute parents' care in 16th century England. Nearly 30 states have filial duty laws. These laws have remained largely unused since Medicaid began providing benefits that pay for nursing home care.

However, the rising cost of long-term care is bringing filial laws back into action. Health care providers are turning to the court system to pursue financial assistance -- or full responsibility -- from sons and daughters.

Who is responsible for long-term care costs in Colorado?

Colorado is one of 21 states that do not have filial responsibility laws. However, you and your siblings may have to pick up the slack if, 1) your parents live in Puerto Rico or one of the 29 states that have filial laws, and 2) your parents do not have the financial means to pay for their long-term care costs.

What can I do?

While it may be an uncomfortable topic at first, talk to your parents about their life care planning arrangements. A little planning now can make a world of difference later. Long-term care and estate planning can provide financial stability and wellbeing to them as well as to you and your children.

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