ARE YOU LEGALLY RESPONSIBLE TO PAY YOUR PARENT’S DEBT?

 
“Filial support” means that adult children are legally obligated to financially support their parents. California’s filial support laws date back to 1872. It is currently in California Family Code sections 4400-4405. In 1973, the California Supreme Court upheld Swoap v. Superior Court of Sacramento that a revised 1971 statute provided a rational, enforceable basis for adult children to reimburse the State for aid granted to their parents.  
 
On the up side, Family Code Section 4400 is still on the books but it is currently being undermined by California Welfare and Institutions Code 12350 which says
 
“No relative shall be held legally liable to support or to contribute to the support of any applicant for or recipient of aid under this chapter.”
 
It further states “No county or city and county or officer or employee thereof shall threaten any such relative with any legal action against him by or in behalf of the county or city and county or with any penalty whatsoever.”
 
Keep in mind, this code only applies to the government, not nursing home corporations or companies.  There is nothing precluding a nursing home corporation or company from using Family Code Section 4400.  Consider too that with the budget cuts and the deficit of funds, how long will it be until California amends the W&I Section?  Then, how long after will you be responsible to pay your parent’s debt?
 
Be sure your parents have done their estate planning!  Be sure you have done your estate planning so your own children are not looking at a potential liability for you.  Take these steps today!
 

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