Can a child be held responsible for a parent’s medical expenses?

By Heidi Rai Stewart

Parental-support laws, a.k.a. filial-support laws, have a long history in the US, placing personal liability on adult children to support their parents. On the books since 1771, PA’s filial-support law is one of the broadest in the nation. Individuals "have the responsibility to financially assist" their "indigent" spouses, parents, and children. One case, in particular, provides a startling example of how this law can be put into effect.

In 2012, the Pennsylvania Superior Court ruled in the Pittas case that a son was liable for nearly $93,000 in nursing-home costs incurred by his mother who left the nursing home and returned to Greece. Son was not the Power of Attorney and had not signed a contract with the facility. Son was told if he wanted other family members to share in the burden he should have enjoined them as third-party defendants. The Superior Court concluded the son was personally liable for the entire lump sum of $92,943.41, plus PA’s statutory interest rate of 6%.

For more in-depth information on this subject see, "Are You Your Mother’s Keeper?"