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Am I responsible for my Mothers bill in Illinois at a Nursing Home.? Medicaid has approved

Polo, IL |

My Mother was placed in an Illinois Nursing Home for the last two months. I am power of attorney for her and signed papers for the Nursing home care. I live in Donna TX. I paid all her bills for September from her checking account leaving only $420. I sent that amount to the Nursing Home. Medicaid just approved Mom and wants her to pay $1543 to the Nursing Home. I called and talked with Nursing Home Administer who told me to pay her bills and send all copies to Medicaid. She told me today, I would have to make payments to pay the rest that is owed for month of September and Part of Oct.

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Attorney answers 3

Posted

Unless you signed a document binding you, and based on your facts, you have acted as a representative and are not personally responsible.

Asker

Posted

The nursing home just sent me their contract I signed. They talked it thru each page when I arrived at their Office back in Aug. The Nursing Home rep told me to sign on the Responsible Party line. I just read the contract and it says I am responsible to pay any bills that my Mother cannot pay. I was signing as the POA and they knew it and now am I responsible to pay her bills at the Nursing Home that Medicaid does not pay? This is what the contract says word for word, RESPONSIBLE PARTY. Any person or persons in addition to the Resident or any other funding sources, who will be liable for the payment of the charges, fees, and expenses enumerated herein shall be know as the Responsible Party and shall sign this contract on the line designated for such Responsible Party. By so signing the contract, the Responsible Party agrees that he/she shall guarantee and be jointly and severally liable for the payment of all charges accruing under the Contract. My daughter signed as Responsible party too. My daughter signed for Resident Responsible Party and I signed on line that says Resident Representative Payee - Social Security. The NH Rep marked an X on that line and told me to sign there.

Asker

Posted

Waiting for your answer.

Posted

Regardless of what you signed or didn't sign, you can be personally liable to your mother's nursing home if you used her funds improperly. Otherwise, you probably aren't liable. However, a Medicaid recipient must pay all her income beyond a needs allowance and any applicable exemptions toward nursing home costs so if you spent the income (such as SS and pension) otherwise you could have issues. This is one reason, it really pays to consult anelder law attorney when a loved one is in long term care and especially before applying for government programs such as Medicaid.

Lawrence Friedman, Bridgewater, NJ. Certified as an Elder Law Attorney by the ABA approved National Elder Law Foundation, former Chair NJ State Bar Association Elder and Disabilities Law Section, Member Board of Consultors of NJSBA Real Property, Trusts & Estates Law Section, Vice Chair Special Needs Law Section of National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, and Master of Laws (L.L.M.) in Taxation from N.Y.U. School of Law. Visit SpecialNeedsNJ.com for articles and Q&A on elder law, special needs, wills, trusts, estates, and tax and SpecialNeedsNJ.com/blog for timely updates. Information on both Avvo and SpecialNeedsNJ.com does not constitute legal advice, as it is general in nature and may not apply to your situation or be subject to important changes. No attorney client relationship exists unless set forth in written engagement terms.

Posted

You very well might be liable. Often people who are trying to help others by acting with a "power of attorney" can get into trouble. First, most people do not sign documents in the correct manner. You should have signed: Mom's name, By: Your name and then written "PoA" or "Power of Attorney" or "Attorney in Fact.' All titles reflect that you are signing as the persons legal representative.

Until a couple of years ago it was easy enough to stay out of trouble even when you didn't do things "quite right" as a power of attorney. However, today, many nursing homes have language in their contracts that state that the "responsible party" - whether guardian, power of attorney or trustee, may be personally liable IF the nursing home doesn't get paid.

You should hire an elder law attorney that practices in a county near the nursing home. You can look at naela.org for a list of elder law attorneys.

Good Luck!

Legal Disclaimer: Paul A. Smolinski is licensed to practice law in the State of Illinois only, and as such, his answers to AVVO inquiries are based on his understanding of Illinois law only. His answers are for general information about perceived legal issues within this question only and no response to any posted inquiry should be deemed to extend any right of confidentiality between you and Mr. Smolinski, to constitute legal advice, or create an attorney/client or other contractual relationship. An attorney/client relationship is formed only by specific agreement including an evaluation of the specific legal problem and review of all the facts and documents at issue. We try to insure the accuracy of this information, but we cannot guarantee its accuracy. The reader should never assume that this information applies to his or her specific situation or constitutes legal advice. Therefore, please consult competent counsel that practices in the subject area in your jurisdiction and who is familiar with your specific facts and all of the circumstances.

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