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Children’s Responsibility For Parents’ Debts In Georgia As A Filial Responsibility State

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As a Georgia Elder Law Attorney, I am often asked about the responsibility adult children have regarding their parents’ debts and expenses if they cannot pay their bills.

This comes up so frequently because Georgia is a filial responsibility state. This is a name given to laws that make third parties (usually adult children) responsible for support for indigent family members. Note that it doesn’t specify parents only.

Even though these Filial Responsibility Laws are on the books in Georgia, they have no teeth and are rarely, if ever enforced.

These laws are based on English “poor laws” from the 16th Century. Many states, including Georgia, have these laws on the books.

Adult children are not held responsible for their parents’ expenses or debts so long as the adult child does not sign any agreements that designate them as guarantors. (You can read my recent article about this by clicking the link at the end of this blog.)

The Georgia statute is found at O.C.G.A. § 36-12-3. There, it provides that the “county” providing care for a pauper may bring an action against a father, a mother, or a child to recover support provided to the pauper. These days, however, counties rarely provide support, so it’s difficult to imagine how a claim could be brought.

Whether your parents would be defined as paupers or not, the best way to avoid being put in a position to take care of their expenses is to get them to create an estate plan with a reputable attorney. Be wary of home-made plans which could end up hurting everyone involved.

If you have further questions about establishing an estate plan, give our office a call at 404-370-0696.

Read more about an adult child’s responsibilities for parents debts here:
What Liability Adult Children Can Have For Their Parent’s Debt


Looking to find an experienced estate lawyer in the Georgia area who is skilled in asset protection and estate plan preparation? Shannon Pawley is an attorney in Georgia with expertise in estate planning and asset protection. Shannon can provide assistance with creating an estate plan to include making a will and how to establish a trust properly. If you have questions about asset protection or questions about making an estate plan, reach out to Shannon and she will be glad to help answer all the estate planning questions you might have!

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