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Legal Obligation To Care For Elderly Parents

(Credit: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

(Credit: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

feldman_amy Amy Feldman
Amy E. Feldman is a business commentator and legal business...
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By Amy E. Feldman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – And you think your mother’s constant “you-never-visit” harangue is annoying? In China, your failure to visit has just become illegal.

China’s law, effective last month, requires adult children to visit their elderly parents “often”. Which makes one wonder: you may be morally obligated to care for your elderly parents – or in-laws – but are you legally obligated to do so? In some cases.

Most states have laws that makes it a criminal violation for a caretaker to intentionally or recklessly cause injury by failing to provide care. And while those laws are generally used to prevent neglect in nursing homes, individuals can be deemed legally responsible as caregivers if they provide care and in exchange receive the elderly person’s pension or social security benefits.

If you find yourself in the situation of caring for an elderly relative and using his or her social security checks to offset your expenses, you could be legally responsible as well. But every state has agencies that help the elderly get the care they need so if you become unable to give proper care, look on line or in the yellow pages to find the help you all need.

So, while you don’t have a legal obligation if you’re not sharing financially, it wouldn’t kill ya to put in a call every now and again, even if you know it will involve the inevitable “you never visit” conversation.

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