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My mother recently passed away in a nursing home. I signed as POA, am I responsible for balance owed to NH? Medicaid was denied.

Louisville, KY |

I've been sending her monthly checks to the NH since she was admitted there from the hospital. She was under Medicare most of her stay, which I was told paid 100% for first 120 days. We have another date set for Medicaid, if we are denied again would I be responsible for the bill since I signed her in the NH as her POA? My mother has no money except her monthly check, which will end now. Please advise. Thank you!

Attorney Answers 4


First, I am sorry for the loss of your mother.

As your mother's agent under her signed Power of Attorney you had broad, sweeping powers with regards to her financial affairs. You likely could make deposits into savings accounts, cash her monthly checks, write checks against her accounts, pay her bills, etc. However, a POA does NOT make the agent responsible for the principal's debts.

Unless you signed an agreement with the nursing home agreeing to be personally responsible for your mother's nursing home expenses, you are not a debtor of the nursing home, the nursing home is not a creditor of you, and the nursing home cannot demand that you pay your mother's debts from your personal accounts. Rather, the nursing home is now a creditor of your mother's estate. The nursing home will likely bring a claim against your mother's estate after you (or the named executor) file your mother's will in the probate court having jurisdiction. I suggest you contact a probate attorney in your area regarding this issue. Good luck to you.

Any information provided by this attorney does not establish an attorney-client relationship.

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You will not be personally liable for your mother's debt unless you agreed to be so. They may have a claim against your Mother's estate, if there is one, so the debt would be paid first before any distributions were made. Again, look carefully at what you signed on her admission but generally you do not assume personal liability.

This is intended to be general guidance and not necessarily state specific advice. There are some concepts that are the same or similar in most jurisdictions but not all. Use the web site to find an attorney in your area for state specific advice. In addition to that, contact your local bar association for referral to an attorney who specializes in this or talk to friends and neighbors to ask about an attorney they have used and liked. Often, but not always, the attorney will do an initial consultation free of charge. You will then be in a better position to determine what to do next. Best of luck to you!

If you liked this answer, click on the thumbs up or vote it best answer! Thanks. Eliz. C. A. Johnson Post Office Box 8 Danville, California 94526-0008 Legal disclaimer: I do not practice law in any state but California. As such, any responses to posted inquiries, such as the one above, are limited to a general understanding of law in California and not to any other jurisdiction. In addition, no response to any posted inquiry should be deemed to constitute legal advice, nor to constitute the existence of an attorney/client or other contractual or fiduciary relationship, inasmuch as legal advice can only be provided in circumstances in which the attorney is able to ask questions of the person seeking legal advice and to thus gather appropriate information.

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I recommend that you contact a competent Kentucky elder law attorney. It is true that you will generally not be liable for your mother’s nursing home care costs. However, you and your attorney should review the nursing home admissions agreement. Did you sign that agreement? Did you sign it as power of attorney and clearly indicate that you were signing it as power of attorney? Under 16 C.F.R. § 444.3(c), a cosigner must be given a separate notice document. However, this notice is not always included in the contract. Therefore, it is important to meet with a competent elder law attorney.

This answer is provided for general informational purposes only. This answer does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied on. Legal advice can only be provided after consultation with an attorney with experience in the area in which your concern lies. It is necessary to consult with a competent attorney licensed in your jurisdiction because each situation is fact specific—it is impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship and should in any way be construed to initiate the formation of an attorney-client relationship.

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As most of the attorneys have indicated, a nursing home cannot hold you personally liable unless you personally guaranteed payment. Even then you may have a defense as the law says this is a prohibited practice. It would be worth your while to confer with an elder law attorney in your area. Go to the website for the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys to locate someone close at hand. Good luck. If this answer was helpful, please tag the up arrow below.

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