French archaeologists find ancient grave of child, pet dog

French archeologists dig at an ancient child burial site recent at the Clermont-Ferrand Airport. France’s National Institute of Preventive Archaeological Research said Thursday the site dates back 2,000 years.

French archaeologists said Thursday they discovered the grave of a small child with what appears to be a pet dog dating to the Roman rule of the region about 2,000 years ago.

The researchers said they found the burial site during a dig at the Clermont-Ferrand Airport in central France. They believe the child was about a year old and buried with animal offerings along with the remains of the pet dog inside a coffin.

The coffin was found in a 6-by-3-foot grave. It was surrounded by 20 objects, including terra cotta vases, glass pots, half a pig, three hams and other pork cuts along with two headless chickens.

“The graves of young Gallo-Roman children are often located outside the community funeral home and sometimes even buried near the family home,” a statement from France’s National Institute of Preventive Archaeological Research said. “These toddlers rarely benefit from the same funeral practices as their elders, who at that time were generally cremated.

“The furniture that accompanies the deceased of Aulnat is quite exceptional, both in terms of its quantity and quality. Such a profusion of dishes and butchery items, as well as the personal belongings that followed the child to his grave, underline the privileged rank to which his family belonged,” the institute said.

The discovery is part of a dig that covers 7.4 acres where numerous objects from the Iron Age to the Middle Ages have been found. Researchers are conducting tests of glassware and containers to learn what they might have held.

Complete Article ↪HERE↩!

Finding meaning in the life of a loved one who dies is part of grief

We’ve all lost so much through the pandemic, but by making sense of it we can look forward

‘We’re grieving the world we have lost.’

By

Death came early into David Kessler’s life. He was just 13 when his mother died, and her loss prompted his decision to forge a career working in palliative care. He went on to collaborate with psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, a central figure in the field, who devised the five stages of grief. In lectures he would talk about his mother’s death and remind his audiences that no one is exempt from loss; and yet, he says today, in his heart he believed his personal experience of devastating grief was behind him, rather than ahead.

And then, four years ago, another tragedy hit his family. Kessler was totally floored by it. He discovered it was one thing knowing the landscape of mourning, and quite another travelling through it. But his journey, hard and long as it was, had an important by-product: he realised that the seminal Kübler-Ross inventory was not complete. To the five stages of grief she described, he was able, with the permission of the Kübler-Ross family, to add a sixth. And now, in the midst of the pandemic, he believes that the sixth stage will be as important in our universal experience of grieving as it is in individual lives hit by loss.

The tragedy in Kessler’s life came out of nowhere, as tragedies so often do. He was on a lecture tour when his son Richard, the eldest of two boys he had adopted in 2000, phoned to say his younger brother David, 21, had been found dead. As children they had a traumatic past life. Kessler says this had come back to haunt David and that he was using drugs at the time he died. In his book, Kessler describes feeling, on hearing of the loss of his son, as though he had fallen into the deepest part of the ocean. What’s more, he knew he would have to stay there for some time. He knew he would experience the stages outlined by Kübler-Ross – denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance – and he knew these would not necessarily be linear, that there was no “right” time frame and that he would oscillate between the different stages.

But what he hadn’t realised until he experienced it for himself was that there was a sixth stage. “I discovered there was something else, something beyond acceptance,” he tells me on a call from his home in Los Angeles. “It was finding meaning: the possibility of being able to discover something meaningful in my grief.”

He’s not saying, he stresses, that there was anything meaningful to be found in David’s death. “It’s not about finding meaning in the death – there is no meaning there. What it’s about is finding meaning in the dead person’s life, in how knowing them shaped us, maybe in how the way they died can help us to make the world safer for others.” Finding meaning, in other words, is something the bereaved can do after the death of someone they loved very much. It’s how those who are left can fold the existence of the lost individual into their lives, how they can allow it to change them, and how they can behave in response to it.

Much of what is experienced on an individual level in grief is echoed in what we’re collectively experiencing because of Covid, Kessler believes. “Many people say they are feeling a heavy sadness – and what they’re describing is grief,” he says. “We’re grieving the world we have lost: normal life, our routines, seeing our friends, going to work. Everything has changed. And change is actually grief – grief is a change we didn’t want.”

Just as with individual loss, at the moment the whole world is going through the stages Kübler-Ross documented. Some people are denying what’s happening; others are angry about it; some are trying to bargain; many are depressed; and eventually, there will have to be an acceptance of what we can never go back to. But also, there will have to be the sixth stage: a search for meaning – and indeed, the stages of grief aren’t chronological or linear, and we’ve been seeing signs of that search from the earliest days. But certainly when it’s over, says Kessler, we will need to find meaning in what we’ve been through. “We are going to say, what was the meaning? What post-traumatic growth can we take from this?” And, crucially, finding meaning is “the stage where the healing often resides”.

Kessler thinks Kübler-Ross, who died in 2004, would have agreed. The two of them met in 1995 and went on to collaborate on a book called On Grief and Grieving, in which they talked about how the stages of grieving were being misinterpreted. But as Kessler sees it now, it wasn’t until he experienced the loss of his son that he was able to finally get to the root of what they had grasped.

All of this matters, he says, because the global north is grief-illiterate. “The things I’m teaching are things people’s great-grandparents knew very well,” he says. “There are people today who think grieving takes three months, or even three weeks.” In the past, he says, you could mourn for as long as was needed – and in truth the fallout of grief never ends, it only changes. “But we live in a time when we’re told we should feel like this for this long, and then you’re done.”

One of the things we risk losing, in our grief-adverse society, is the personal growth it can enable. “We all talk about post-traumatic stress, but I’d say post-traumatic growth happens even more.” He believes we need to acknowledge that loss can have this spin-off and understand what it can do for us.

This makes perfect sense to me. I’ve often noticed, when I’ve interviewed people who have experienced bereavement, that they’re in a better place psychologically if they have taken what Kessler would describe as meaning from it, or when they’re upfront about how it’s changed them. And I know my own life has been radically changed, and achieved meaning, because of the loss of my sister when we were both children – I simply can’t imagine the other person I would have been without that experience.

Which brings us to another point: guilt. Because surely if we as bereaved people are gaining from loss, we will at some point feel guilty about it. Yet we should not, says Kessler, because we’d never have chosen to lose the individual we cherished. Their death is something we can’t change, but what we can change is how we live in the now, without them. We’d all give up, in a blink of an eye, the growth we’ve experienced if it would bring anyone back; but the point is, that’s the one thing we absolutely can’t do. And we have to remember, too, that the person who has gone would have wanted us to find meaning in our lives because of them. “My son was proud of what I did, and he’d be pleased that my work has found a new dimension because of him,” says Kessler.

The bottom line about grief, says Kessler, is this: there’s no wrong way to do it. Grieving is as individual as each of us; our grieving needs are different, in every case – and that seems to be true of how we’re coping with the grief of the pandemic, too. It’s also incredibly lonely: people who haven’t experienced grief before imagine that other family members will be able to help. But, in fact, when everyone is grieving it’s often not possible to reach out to one another, all you can do sometimes, as a grieving person, is survive.

One question he’s often asked, says Kessler, is which kind of loss is the worst. “People ask, is it worse to lose your child or your spouse? And I always say: the worst grief is yours.”

But if that’s the case, the positive message of Kessler’s book is that the best gain can also be yours. He tells me a story: he was speaking at a conference in a big hotel, and there were other conferences going on in the rooms around his. “Afterwards a member of the hotel cleaning team came up to me and asked: ‘What were your group working on? Because so much laughter was coming from your room.’” The reason, says Kessler, is that people who have been in the deepest depths of despair have the broadest bandwidth when it comes to enjoying life: “When you’ve travelled through the deepest valleys, you surely appreciate the views from the highest hills.” And right now, as we all travel together through the deepest of valleys, that’s a very good message to hear.

Complete Article HERE!

Upon the riverbank of memory

Mourning is important. Mourning is necessary. Last rites, farewell rituals; now I understand the magnified conventions of burials and vigils….

By Asna Safdar

INTROSPECTION

Mourning is important. Mourning is necessary. Last rites, farewell rituals; now I understand the magnified conventions of burials and vigils.

When a life comes to an end abruptly, without due decay of age and illness, when youth is disgraced by an unceremonious death, then the loss becomes perpetual, the mourning is eternal, and sorrow is born. Like an infant, it needs to be tended to, weep to maturity, until it becomes an existence in itself, to fill the void left by the untimely demise of its origin. Then, perhaps, the debt is paid. Then, perhaps, the order of things is spared of merciless trauma.

It is not just humans that are living. The bonds between them have lives of their own. They, too, have natural courses of life and death. They, however, can be killed off with bloodshed, buried without trail, drowned in the dead of the night.

And that is what makes feelings dangerous: our self-deceptive ease of their denial. That is what makes them terrifyingly powerful.

When you love in silence, you do not yet know – you one day might have to mourn in silence, too. You might have to deny yourself the faintest whisper of devastating pain. And one day, you wake up to find it gone. And you embrace your newfound faith in the miracle of forgetfulness, the numbing balm of time.

But that’s the thing about undocumented assaults – you fling the evidence of your crimes into a river and walk away and one day find yourself under trial for a dead body that washes ashore on the riverbank of memory.

You wonder if the bitterness ever goes away. You think abandoning a feeling would make it wither, until one night, there is again poison trickling down your insides. All you asked was not to be the harbour where bitterness comes to find anchor. All you ever asked was to become the ocean itself.

Your deeds, your excesses, your injustice, your trauma, your unwept tears, your unspoken pains – everything catches up with you like mad hounds you couldn’t throw off your scent.

It is immensely naïve and profoundly ignorant for man to believe that the laws of universe are null and void in the empty spaces between each of our lives. How is that, an action has to have a reaction, but that human action has no consequences? That the things we do to each other deflect into some dark black abyss from where nothing ever returns? Do we actually believe that if we manage to inflict pain upon someone who does not have it in their power to claim retribution or recompense, the scores are settled? Accounts balanced? Charges dismissed? Case closed?

It’s the people who leave you for dead. Or those who drive you to the edge of cliffs and turn back just in time to avoid having to watch you fall. Somehow they think, not being a witness to the crime mitigates their culpability, diminishes their responsibility, validates their denial.

If it is ignorance, it is blind; if self-deception, destructive. Nothing ever really goes away. We do, and we will; but the legacy of endured, undeserved pain, stays.

The laws of the universe are not null and void – they are in vicious motion. It is only a matter of time. Time: the unknown variable, the great equaliser, the unrelenting ombudsman.

Complete Article HERE!

15 Helpful Ways To Support Employees Returning From Bereavement Leave

Grieving the loss of a loved one takes time and care. Employees who take a few days off to make arrangements and attend services will still be tending to their grief when they return to the office. As a leader, you have to learn how to support your team members as they deal with difficult losses, especially during a global pandemic when many lives are being lost each day.

That’s why we asked members of Forbes Coaches Council to tell us how leaders can best support team members who are dealing with grief. Here’s what they suggest you do to truly “be there” for your employees after they return to work from bereavement leave.

1. Get To Know The Elisabeth Kübler-Ross Grief Model

I’d suggest becoming familiar with the Elisabeth Kübler-Ross grief model. Recognize that there will be good days and bad days, and people can wobble back and forth. Be present and just listen to the individual. Allow them opportunities to share memories, should they choose to do so. Allow the person to take time off so that they can take care of themselves emotionally, physically and spiritually. – Christie Cooper, Cooper Consulting Group

2. Pay For Therapy Sessions

If you can afford it, help them pay for a certain number of sessions with a therapist who specializes in loss. Be lenient if they need to take off an hour here and there to go to therapy. You could also help them find resources, such as books and support groups, or assign them a “buddy” in the office who will regularly check in to see how they are doing. – Maria Ines Moran, Action Coach

3. Learn About The Five Stages Of Grief

Leaders need to recognize that their team members will need their support in one way or another, even if they do not express it. Leaders would benefit from learning about the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Leaders would also benefit from understanding that individuals do not go through these stages in a linear way and may go in and out of each stage multiple times. Remember to practice compassion. – Michelle Braden, MSBCoach, LLC

4. Practice Empathy

Instead of rushing to fix, we must learn how to listen, and then just be. Most often, in loss, we think we are being helpful when we tell the person grieving that we are there and ask for them to reach out if they need something. Not only do most people hate to ask for help, but we are also putting the onus on them. Instead, acknowledge the loss and remind them that you’re there with them. That’s empathy. – Jen Croneberger, JLynne Consulting Group

5. Ask Them What They Need

Welcome them back and ask them what they need. Ask them if there is a particular way they want to engage when it comes to their loss. Are they okay with others asking them about it? Do they prefer that everyone just act as if it’s business as usual? Coming back after a bereavement can be awkward without that understanding. – Mike Ambassador Bruny, No More Reasonable Doubt

6. Offer To Listen

Check in with team members who are dealing with bereavement. When doing so, simply offering to listen to anything they wish to share can go a long way toward providing them support. Offering a specific suggestion about how you can be supportive beyond that will open the door for them to reach out as they need. – David Yudis, Potential Selves

7. Adapt To Changing Needs

Remember that grief is not always just an emotional response. There may be physical and mental symptoms as well. People will have different needs as they move through the grief process. Routinely check in with them without focusing on their loss. They will appreciate a slower than normal pace upon return, a gentle tone when being spoken to, as well as understanding and patience as they heal. – Lindsay Miller, Reverie Organizational Development Specialists

8. Be Flexible

Ask them what they need and be flexible. Rather than assume you know what the person needs, ask them. The person may see work as an emotional escape. Others may have a hard time concentrating and need some slack, whether that is a reduced workload or more time to complete work. Some people may want to talk. Others may need time off. Being flexible will go a long way toward supporting the person. – Julie Kantor, PhD, JP Kantor Consulting

9. Develop Situational Awareness

Grief is a process that takes time, and people handle it differently. Support your team members with empathy and situational awareness. And do not try to be their therapist or friend. When my mother died (I was 28), my managers let me continue to work, but they knew that I was not at my best. When I was upset, they supported me; but when I was not, they supported my focus on work. – Bill Berman, Ph.D., ABPP, Berman Leadership Development

10. Be Real

Don’t avoid the person. Don’t dance around the reality of the situation. Be compassionate and up front with the person to see how they are doing. Ask if they need support. Check back in every so often. Be authentic. – Dan Messinger, Cream of the Crop Leaders

11. Help Them Navigate Sources Of Support

Listen and try to offer the support they need, which might be very different over time. Everyone grieves differently; ask what they need and how you can help. Offer personal support and flexibility. Be prepared to help them navigate other sources of support that would be available to them. And give them the gift of space. – Rebecca Lea Ray, The Conference Board

12. Empathetically Acknowledge The Loss

Empathetically acknowledging a colleague’s loss is vital. Even if you will not see them in person, you can do this by a phone call or a message. Ensure that you offer your time, space and an empathetic ear. Even if this offer is not taken up, it will provide reassurance and comfort that support from colleagues is there and available. – Simi Rayat, Wellbeing Face Ltd

13. Don’t Take Any Behavior Personally

Begin by connecting with genuine care and empathy. Express support by being aware, checking in and offering a private and peaceful moment to share. As they journey through their grief, do not take any of their behavior personally, nor allow their behavior to negatively define them. Once resiliency is restored, engagement returns, and most often, a newfound motivation and drive leads the way. – Lori Harris, Harris Whitesell Consulting

14. Accept Emotions As They Are

Let them acknowledge feelings. Sadness is normal and can even be healthy. Research has shown that it is essential for mental well-being to have mixed and negative feelings. People who apologize for their feelings or suppress them actually intensify these negative feelings. Try to acknowledge emotions without judging. Accept emotions as they are instead. This helps you to cope with them. – Cristian Hofmann, Empowering Executives | SUPERGROUP LTD

15. Provide Space And Psychological Safety

Listen with a compassionate ear. This is not a time to address or resolve any of the emotions or thinking your employee is processing. Provide the space for them to grieve and the psychological safety to express themselves, and then support them with resources as appropriate. – Sheila Carmichael, Transitions D2D, LLC

Complete Article HERE!

Lantern is a startup looking to ignite a conversation about how to die well

By Danny Crichton

America is a land of paperwork, and nowhere is that more obvious than at the end of someone’s life. Advanced care directives have to be carefully disseminated to healthcare providers and strictly followed. Property has to be divided and transferred while meeting relevant estate laws. And of course, there are the logistics of a funeral, cremation or other option that has its own serious complexities, costs and choices.

The worst time to figure out how to die is when you die. The best time to figure it out is precisely when you don’t have to.

For New York City-headquartered Lantern, the goal is to initiate those conversations early and give its users significantly better peace-of-mind, particularly in these dolorous times.

The company offers essentially a “how-to” platform for beginning to prepare for end-of-life, offering checklists and monitoring to ensure that the vast majority of details are figured out in advance. In some cases, the startup will handle the underlying details itself, while in other areas like estate planning, it works with partners such as Trust & Will, which we have profiled a number of times on TechCrunch.

Right now, the company has two plans: a simple free one and a $27 / year plan that tracks your progress on end-of-life planning and allows you to collaborate with family, friends or whoever else needs to be part of your decision-making. The company is in the process of adding other à la carte options for additional fees.

Last month, the company raised $1.4 million in a seed round led by Draper Associates with a few other firms involved. Earlier, the company raised a pre-seed round of $890,000 from the likes of 2048 Ventures, Amplify and others, bringing its total raised to date to $2.3 million. The company is organized as a public-benefit corporation and was founded in September 2018, and first launched a year later.

For founders Liz Eddy and Alyssa Ruderman, Lantern was an opportunity to tackle a looming problem in a compassionate and empathetic way. “I started my first company when I was 15,” Eddy, who is CEO, said. That company focused on dating abuse and domestic violence education for high school and later college students. “I really fell in love with the pace and variety of starting something new, but also in creating conversations around topics that people really don’t want to talk about and making it more palatable and comfortable,“ she said.

Later, she joined local suicide prevention nonprofit Crisis Text Line, which has an SMS-based network of crisis counselors who are trained to calm people and begin their process of recovery. She spent more than six years at the organization.

As for Ruderman, who is COO of Lantern, she most recently spent two years at Global Citizen, a nonprofit organization focused on ending extreme poverty. The two connected and incubated Lantern at startup accelerator Grand Central Tech.

The idea for better end-of-life planning came from personal experience. “I lost my dad when I was in elementary school,” Eddy said, “and saw firsthand how loss and grief impacts a family financially, emotionally, logistically, legally — every aspect.”

Today, many of these processes are offline, and the online products mostly available today are focused on individual elements of end-of-life planning, such as estate planning or selecting and purchasing a casket. Eddy and Ruderman saw an opportunity to provide a more holistic experience with a better product while also initiating these conversations earlier.

That pre-planning part of the product was launched just as the pandemic was getting underway last year, and Eddy said that “we had a sort of a really interesting launch where people were starting to come to terms with their own mortality in a way we hadn’t seen in a very long time.” Typical users so far have been between 25 and 35 years old, and many people start planning when they have a major life event. Eddy says that the death of a family member is an obvious trigger, but so is having a baby or starting a company.

One aspect that Eddy emphasized repeatedly was that having a will and pre-planning for end-of-life are not equivalent. “Even if you don’t have a dollar to your name after you pass away, there are a ton of other things that your loved ones, family members, whoever’s responsible has to consider,” she said.

From a product perspective, there are some nuances compared to your more typical SaaS startup. For one, the company needs to engage you regularly, but not too frequently. Unlike, say, a wedding, which is a single event that then is over, your documents and directives need to be occasionally edited and updated as a user’s life circumstances change.

Beyond that, one of the largest challenges with a product that talks about death is building a connection with a user that doesn’t seem cold, and, well, Silicon Valley-like. “Even as a product that is entirely virtual, making sure that you really feel that human connection throughout” is a high priority, Eddy said. “We use a lot of empathetic language, and our imagery, all of the illustrations are done by illustrators who have lost someone in memory of the person who’s lost.”

Longevity startups may remain a thesis for some VC investors, but handling the end — no matter when — is an activity every person faces. Lantern might shine just a bit more light on what is otherwise a debilitating and scary prospect.

Complete Article HERE!

These conversations are among the hardest I have had as a doctor

Few people want to die alone, and even fewer want their loved one to be alone in the final weeks, days and hours of their life.

By Julia Corfield

It’s a cold Saturday morning in Melbourne and I am a doctor at work in a palliative care unit. I have just reviewed one of my patients, whose body is beginning to reveal some of the tell-tale signs of dying.

His son stands over him and sadly remarks that “this is a bad time to die”.

With strict visiting restrictions firmly in place across Melbourne, there is a very real chance that his father will die alone and he knows it. This is the new normal.

In a state of disaster, there are a set of rules and visiting restrictions for families and friends of those dying in a hospital setting. These restrictions vary slightly between health services, but the message is the same: as few visitors as possible, for as short a time period as is reasonable.

For months now, hospital staff (myself included) have been chanting the mantra of seemingly arbitrary visiting windows, maximum numbers of visitors per patient and numbers of visitors permitted at the bedside.

In recent times, I have found myself asking questions such as “do all six of your siblings need to visit?” or “could your grandchildren say their goodbyes via FaceTime?”. These conversations are among the hardest I have had as a doctor.

Many find these new rules unacceptable, and with good reason. Few people want to die alone, and even fewer want their loved one to be alone in the final weeks, days and hours of their life.

However, these are not normal times, and a balance must be struck between compassion and safety. Across the world, and now in Victoria, we know that many people with COVID-19 are dying alone; but so are those without COVID-19. Both are tragic realities.

Under normal circumstances, achieving “a good death” is laden with obstacles, let alone in a pandemic. An inherent challenge is that a good death is an individualised experience, reflecting the diversity of the human person.

There are some commonalities across what constitutes a good death, and the company of friends and family features almost universally.

A current patient comes to mind — a woman in her 70s dying of lung cancer — who tells me almost daily that her breathing is bad but the feeling of loneliness even worse. She would like to see her grandchildren, but no children are allowed in the hospital.

Her brother visits, but the allocated two-hour visiting window is not long enough to fill the void created when faced with one’s own mortality. And so on. Her story is not unique.

Dying in a pandemic has brought with it new and more challenging obstacles, ones that make us question what it means to be human. Death is normal, but dying alone is not. So, frankly, when I hear my patients and their relatives say that it is a bad time to die, I can’t help but agree.

Ultimately, how we live and how we die tells us about society as a whole. Today, people die alone to protect society and this at least may be a small source of solace. Their strength and determination to push forward and adapt to this strange new world is a testament to the human spirit.

I hope, though, that those dying in this COVID-19 world know that their sacrifice has not gone unnoticed. Every day, their struggles are seen and felt. Many have had to forgo the so-called good death, and that is the undeniable truth.

Complete Article HERE!

An Overview of Filial Responsibility Laws

By Rebecca Lake

Taking care of aging parents is something you may need to plan for, especially if you think one or both of them might need long-term care. One thing you may not know is that some states have filial responsibility laws that require adult children to help financially with the cost of nursing home care. Whether these laws affect you or not depends largely on where you live and what financial resources your parents have to cover long-term care. But it’s important to understand how these laws work to avoid any financial surprises as your parents age.

Filial Responsibility Laws, Definition

Filial responsibility laws are legal rules that hold adult children financially responsible for their parents’ medical care when parents are unable to pay. More than half of U.S. states have some type of filial support or responsibility law, including:

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

Puerto Rico also has laws regarding filial responsibility. Broadly speaking, these laws require adult children to help pay for things like medical care and basic needs when a parent is impoverished. But the way the laws are applied can vary from state to state. For example, some states may include mental health treatment as a situation requiring children to pay while others don’t. States can also place time limitations on how long adult children are required to pay.

When Do Filial Responsibility Laws Apply?

If you live in a state that has filial responsibility guidelines on the books, it’s important to understand when those laws can be applied.

Generally, you may have an obligation to pay for your parents’ medical care if all of the following apply:

  • One or both parents are receiving some type of state government-sponsored financial support to help pay for food, housing, utilities or other expenses
  • One or both parents has nursing home bills they can’t pay
  • One or both parents qualifies for indigent status, which means their Social Security benefits don’t cover their expenses
  • One or both parents are ineligible for Medicaid help to pay for long-term care
  • It’s established that you have the ability to pay outstanding nursing home bills

If you live in a state with filial responsibility laws, it’s possible that the nursing home providing care to one or both of your parents could come after you personally to collect on any outstanding bills owed. This means the nursing home would have to sue you in small claims court.

If the lawsuit is successful, the nursing home would then be able to take additional collection actions against you. That might include garnishing your wages or levying your bank account, depending on what your state allows.

Whether you’re actually subject to any of those actions or a lawsuit depends on whether the nursing home or care provider believes that you have the ability to pay. If you’re sued by a nursing home, you may be able to avoid further collection actions if you can show that because of your income, liabilities or other circumstances, you’re not able to pay any medical bills owed by your parents.

Filial Responsibility Laws and Medicaid

While Medicare does not pay for long-term care expenses, Medicaid can. Medicaid eligibility guidelines vary from state to state but generally, aging seniors need to be income- and asset-eligible to qualify. If your aging parents are able to get Medicaid to help pay for long-term care, then filial responsibility laws don’t apply. Instead, Medicaid can paid for long-term care costs.

There is, however, a potential wrinkle to be aware of. Medicaid estate recovery laws allow nursing homes and long-term care providers to seek reimbursement for long-term care costs from the deceased person’s estate. Specifically, if your parents transferred assets to a trust then your state’s Medicaid program may be able to recover funds from the trust.

You wouldn’t have to worry about being sued personally in that case. But if your parents used a trust as part of their estate plan, any Medicaid recovery efforts could shrink the pool of assets you stand to inherit.

Talk to Your Parents About Estate Planning and Long-Term Care

If you live in a state with filial responsibility laws (or even if you don’t), it’s important to have an ongoing conversation with your parents about estate planning, end-of-life care and where that fits into your financial plans.

You can start with the basics and discuss what kind of care your parents expect to need and who they want to provide it. For example, they may want or expect you to care for them in your home or be allowed to stay in their own home with the help of a nursing aide. If that’s the case, it’s important to discuss whether that’s feasible financially.

If you believe that a nursing home stay is likely then you may want to talk to them about purchasing long-term care insurance or a hybrid life insurance policy that includes long-term care coverage. A hybrid policy can help pay for long-term care if needed and leave a death benefit for you (and your siblings if you have them) if your parents don’t require nursing home care.

Speaking of siblings, you may also want to discuss shared responsibility for caregiving, financial or otherwise, if you have brothers and sisters. This can help prevent resentment from arising later if one of you is taking on more of the financial or emotional burdens associated with caring for aging parents.

If your parents took out a reverse mortgage to provide income in retirement, it’s also important to discuss the implications of moving to a nursing home. Reverse mortgages generally must be repaid in full if long-term care means moving out of the home. In that instance, you may have to sell the home to repay a reverse mortgage.

Filial responsibility laws could hold you responsible for your parents’ medical bills if they’re unable to pay what’s owed. If you live in a state that has these laws, it’s important to know when you may be subject to them. Helping your parents to plan ahead financially for long-term needs can help reduce the possibility of you being on the hook for nursing care costs unexpectedly.

  • Consider talking to a financial advisor about what filial responsibility laws could mean for you if you live in a state that enforces them. If you don’t have a financial advisor yet, finding one doesn’t have to be a complicated process. SmartAsset’s financial advisor matching tool can help you connect, in just minutes, with professional advisors in your local area. If you’re ready, get started now.
  • When discussing financial planning with your parents, there are other things you may want to cover in addition to long-term care. For example, you might ask whether they’ve drafted a will yet or if they think they may need a trust for Medicaid planning. Helping them to draft an advance healthcare directive and a power of attorney can ensure that you or another family member has the authority to make medical and financial decisions on your parents’ behalf if they’re unable to do so.

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