Am I, as legal power of attorney responsible for my mother's credit card debt?
Rochester, MN |
$9,000 in credit card debt incurred before we set up POA. My mother has no money and lives in an apartment connected to a care center. She has a house that is on a reverse mortgage. The house is up for sale with no expected profits.
You are not personally liable for her debts. You cannot be required to pay her debts from your own income and assets. If any debt collector tries to tell you that you are, contact a lawyer who practices in the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act area. You can sue a debt collector who misrepresents the legal status of a debt in that manner.
You do have the power to pay her debts with her assets. In this case, it sounds as though her only asset is the house. the homestead exemption protects the house if she lives there, and protects the proceeds from the sale of the house for one year after the sale. I'm not sure how a reverse mortgage would affect that exemption. I suspect that the income from the reverse mortgage is entirely taken up by the care center. I would need to know more to make a solid recommendation, but it does not sound as though your mother's best interests include paying these debts. Even if they sue her and get a judgment, they probably cannot collect the debt.
I represent people in this kind of predicament, and I can recommend a couple of other Minnesota attorneys who could represent your mother. It is not an expensive proposition to get a lawyer involved at this point, and it puts someone between her and the debt collectors. It might even convince the collectors to abandon their collection efforts.
As someone holding a power of attorney, you are legally responsible for handling your mother's money & other property with integrity. This doesn't make you legally responsible to her creditors but you are responsible for using her income prudently. If you don't understand this responsibility, I urge you to obtain legal advice immediately, as misuse of property or money via a power of attorney can have criminal repercussions. Hope this perspective helps!
A 'Power of Attorney' is a legally recognized document that authorizes a person (or persons) to handles another's financial or other property matters. A Power of Attorney does not create personal liability on another person's credit card debt.
TWIN CITIES to ST CLOUD. Do seek legal counsel for your personal legal issues and needs. This post is not legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. This post is to be considered general information which may or may not apply to your personal situation.