The Elder Law Forum

The Elder Law Forum
Last week's column – "Accommodating Jesus' Hostility Toward Wealth" – elicited two responses; one demanding a correction, and the second, offering a rationale for embracing earthly well-being.

First, the correction: Minnesota is not, I repeat, Minnesota is not one of the 30 states with a filial responsibility statute requiring children to pay for the necessary debts of their impoverished parents. A son, residing in Minneapolis, asked that I delete Minnesota from the list of filial responsibility states, which are:

Alaska, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia and West Virginia.

Mary Ellen and I also have children domiciled in California, Virginia and South Dakota. The legal question arises, therefore, whether our two sons in Minnesota could escape the South Dakota statute providing that "Every adult child, having the financial ability to do so, shall provide necessary food, shelter or medical attendance for a parent unable to provide for himself."

"Do you mean South Dakota could reach across state lines and force me to pay your South Dakota nursing home expense?" he asked. I suggested it may be able to, similar to its enforcement of out-of-state child support.

A companion statute provides "that in the event necessary food, clothing, or medical attendance is provided for a parent by a child, he/she shall have the right of contribution from his/her brothers and sisters." A responsible adult child who steps forward with payment can extract pro rata payments from less responsible siblings.

My reference to Matthew 19:24 quoting Jesus as stating, "It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God," brought this rebuttal:

"Both Jesus and we know that this does not apply to all people of wealth. In this case (Jesus) was comparing the frequently observed behavior of people with wealth to the difficulty they could experience in exchanging their trust in what they could see, for something that is unseen – the Kingdom of God." She may be right. But I'm not taking any chances. I'm retaining a state of financial insolvency.

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