Statutes: The State Pays for Welfare

Under the laws of California and most other states, close relatives of a person confined in a state mental institution may be held responsible for part of the hospital expenses—provided they can afford to pay. But last week the status of all such laws was put in doubt.

An elderly woman had been committed to a state institution for mental incompetence. Her only close relative, a daughter, died in 1960, leaving a small estate to a niece. When the state claimed part of the estate to cover the costs of taking care of the old lady, the niece refused to...

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