Filial Responsibility Laws by State 2020

Who doesn't love their parents? After all, without their endless efforts and sacrifice, many of us may not be in the positions that we're currently in today. Therefore, we'd do anything in our power to take care of them when necessary.

Now here's the twist: There are laws throughout the United States that require adult children to care for their elderly or ill parents. Not all states share the same ideals, though. To thoroughly understand the way these filial laws work, check out the laws enforced in various states.

Filial Laws

Filial responsibility is defined as the following statement:"... [laws that] impose a duty, usually upon adult children, for the support of their impoverished parents or other relatives." This law was enacted in various states after the Elizabethan Poor Law of 1601. Of course, since this enactment, there were significant changes to this law to adapt to current times.

Currently, 27 states and Puerto Rico have specific laws surrounding filial responsibility, with some of those states including:

Of course, each state sets its separate regulations surrounding this law, so it's crucial to learn the specifics of each area that abides by it.

Class/Income Level

For most states that apply these laws, the income level of the parent and child are taken into consideration. This rule is to help those who may not be able to care for their parents' debt in the future.

In most states, people who have low-income typically don't have to worry about these laws. Sometimes, this exception can apply to middle-class families if they all meet one condition: the parents must qualify for Medicaid.

Of course, people with higher incomes still abide by the law since they can afford to take on their parents' debt if needed. Lower and some middle-income families, on the other hand, may require more help, which exempts them from this law.


Under these laws, the adult children must care for their parents' bills and debt once they're unable to manage it themselves. Many of these debts include nursing home bills and other long-term bills.

The amount an adult child is liable to pay can decrease due to Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security. If their parents qualify for any or all these programs, then the only expenses they'll have to pay for are personal expenses, like nursing home fees and personal items.

Filial Responsibility Laws by State 2020