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Dawn Herrmann, Dent, Minn., Published June 30 2012

Nursing homes eye a new ‘tool’

Currently, 30 states have filial responsibility laws. The laws vary state to state, but generally they require adult children to provide financial support to their indigent or poor parents. This law does exist in North Dakota and nursing homes are collecting from adult children through court-ordered support orders and judgments. A judgment may be enforced in any number of ways, including garnishment of your wages or a lien against your home or real estate.

Some states’ adult children may face criminal charges for not financially supporting their parents. In other states, both civil lawsuits and criminal actions are possible.

Are you worried? You should be. This does happen. A year ago, I had no idea what filial responsibility law was; to date I am included in a third-party judgment from a nursing home in southeastern North Dakota.

I am one of six children. A brother who lives in that area failed to pay the nursing home bill and neglected to inform his siblings. He also failed to inform his siblings that he purchased my parents’ farmstead for below fair market value, making my parents indigent far before they should have been. Medicaid benefits were denied due to it. The nursing home failed to mention anything to other family members as well, yet in the eyes of the law, we all are responsible.