Could You Be Forced to Pay for Your Parents Long-Term Care Stay?


It appears that you could……

Ohio Revised Code Chapter 2919. OFFENSES AGAINST THE FAMILY

“§ 2919.21.  Nonsupport or contributing to nonsupport of dependents

(A) No person shall abandon, or fail to provide adequate support to:

(1) The person’s spouse, as required by law;

(2) The person’s child who is under age eighteen, or mentally or physically handicapped child who is under age twenty-one;

(3) The person’s aged or infirm parent or adoptive parent, who from lack of ability and means is unable to provide adequately for the parent’s own support”.

This is a statute that has been on the books for a long time and failure to obey falls under criminal offenses. The State of Ohio has put in place a statute that allows one individual to be forced to pay the debts of another. It is an interesting case that will require a lot of research in order to reach a definitive answer.

While researching Ohio case law, I was unable to find a case on point. I did, however, find positions of the court which enforce children paying for the “needs” of the parent. The Ohio Court sets up the potential of enforcement by saying that Ohio law has always recognized degrees of kinship, and has assigned rights and duties along the lines of kinship. R.C. 2105.06, the law of descent and distribution, is a prime example. R.C. 2919.21(A)(3) requires adult children to support their aged parents. Ohio law recognizes rights and duties across the sociologist’s distinction between the nuclear and extended family in the Matter of Kandi Hartley, Alleged Neglected and Abused Child. No. 1399. 88-LW-3472 (4th) Court of Appeals of Ohio, Fourth District, Athens, October 13, 1988

Why change things now? The issue is purely budgetary in my mind. However, Pennsylvania has enforced this as a Medicaid recovery program. The case is Healthcare & Retirement Corporation of America, v. John Pittas. John Pittas was forced to pay the healthcare costs of his mother at an HCR facility. The case indicates that the child should have shown with specificity that he/she could not support the parent, a standard which in Ohio is very difficult to demonstrate. The court did not concern itself with liability distribution to all of the children, merely the one it believed could afford to pay. One of the more unique aspects of this case in Pennsylvania is that the nursing homes and facilities are beginning to use the case and the statute to ensure that they are paid. In order to get paid, the facilities are looking for ways to force someone to cover the cost.

Be aware of how the law is changing around you. Contact an attorney experienced in Medicaid and Estate Recovery before you complete your long term care plan. You must  thoroughly understand the problem and properly plan for it. The ability to pay is becoming a larger and larger rally cry. (The rationale might be along the lines of….if a child has the ability to pay, why should a parent receive Medicaid benefits?) Soliciting the help of a Northeast Ohio attorney experienced in this area is a crucial part of the planning process.