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I’m consulting with an elder law attorney and they have informed me that I will not be liable out of my own funds for mom’s nursing home/medical debts. I want to hear feedback from you guys especially from those that may have had to do this. (I know things can be different from state to state but still any advice?) Mom is pretty much indigent and incompetent now and a Medicaid application is “pending” with the state conservator. When I read the documents though to place mom in nursing home, the language can place questions as to my liability. My guardianship papers however clearly say I will not be responsible.

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Someone on the forum will be able to answer ur question. As guardian you will not be required to pay out of pocket. Your responsibility will be to handle the finances and medical. But once Mom is on Medicaid, her SS and any pension will need to go to her care. Is there a house? Unless you want to pay for the upkeep it should be sold at market value. Once sold, Medicaid stops till you spend down the proceeds. Then u refile for Medicaid. If there is a house, bring this up to your lawyer.
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If you sign a paper that the nursing home provides that states that you are willing to be responsible for any of your Mom's nursing home expenses, you might be liable.  Make sure that you read each form carefully before you sign it to make sure that you are NOT accepting responsibility to pay for your Mom's nursing home expenses. 

As a guardian, you are generally NOT personally responsible to pay for your Mom's expenses out of your own pocket.  You definitely need to have a separate checking account just for your Mom's money and NEVER, EVER intermingle your Mom's money and your money in the SAME checking or saving account.
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Deanna. My concern is that the guardianship paper language does protect me but of course the nursing homes put language in their admission papers that state payment will be made (does not matter who). Again this is what confuses. The attorney says to let her read any papers I sign but if I’m a guardian. I HAVE to keep mom in a nursing facility and all their language will protect THEM. So it seems I’m in a pickle either way. Am I misreading into this ??? Any advice ?
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I'd check with your attorney again about the nursing home paper work. Do you have Durable POA? When I signed AL paperwork for my LO, I signed on her behalf as POA, so, I had no personal liability, but, if you don't have that document and you are not yet Guardian, I'd get sound legal advice before signing. Maybe, let the attorney read the papers.

I'd ask about how the Medicaid payment works. It's my understanding that a long term care facility accepts Medicaid, they can't demand any more money from the resident, other than that set forth by law.

In addition to what your lawyer provides, you can check with the Clerk of court where the guardianship would be established. They often have a brochure, probably online too, that describes your duties as a Guardian. You may be required to file an Inventory and An Annual Account of the funds for every year you serve, listing all income, how it is spent, receipts, invoices, etc. You may need to post a surety bond. It depends.

I'd find out in advance who will be responsible for completing paperwork for the Medicaid annual re-evaluation application from the agency that handles it in your county. It's important to make sure that gets done timely, so there is no gap in the benefits.
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I do not have poa and would be petitioning for guardianship at this point. I read the guardian ship papers and it clearly protects me from liability. BUT as a guardian I HAVE to sign required papers at nursing homes and clearly they will include language to ensure payment. This is what utimately confuses me it seems conflicting.. any advice ????
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I have not been required to pay out of pocket for anything, although I do on occasion and I keep all receipts and at the end of the year when I file the annual reports I will even things out.
Our retirement checks do go into separate accounts and the court has put some restrictions on how much I can remove. I am limited on how to handle her savings. I can put funds into it but withdrawals are another issue.
I must add that my wife is still living at home so medicaid is not yet involved.
The judge here did question me about being paid for caring for her. My answer was that I have cared for her for fifty years and would continue to do so as long as I possibly could.
Please note that I live in Nevada and thing may vary in your area but do talk with an eldercare attorney.
And yes the annual paper work is horrendous. But I did it with no errors. It only took three days for me and lots of coffee.
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Myownlife Aug 2018
Oldsailor, I don't understand. How can a court/judge tell you what you can/cannot do with your wife's money when you are married and she is at home? Or, are you talking about having applied for Medicaid and that is why you have restrictions on how to spend? I don't mean to be nosy, just trying to get an entire education on this site. It is so helpful!
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When you sign papers with your signiture add (guardian for....) Ask your attorney if this will be acceptable
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I was Guardian for my Husband. (Not my choice and in 20/20 hindsight probably did not have to be done)
There are NO personal financial risks, unless you want to assume them
The lawyer fee comes out of the funds of the client, (your Mom).
You will have to be bonded and you will still have to pay the court appointed Guardian ad litem. (at least I did in the state where I reside..Illinois)
You will have to go to court to be appointed, and all relatives will have to be notified of the petition as well as the court dates.
There is time that you will invest, court time, time preparing documentation as to bills you are paying. If money comes out of your account (you buy a pair of shoes or take her to lunch) you save all receipts and you can pay yourself back but the court must approve the expense. This is done several times a year. You can go to court or have the lawyer go.
It can get complicated. There should be information on line for your particular state, I do not think your particular county would have different regulations than the state would but to be sure check the county website.
good luck. Keep in mind that it is a safer way to do things for her protection both financially and personally.
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health2018 Aug 2018
Grandma1954: What could you have done differently than guardianship for you husband. You mentioned it probably didn't need to be done. I have POA and medical POA. Elder law atty. has made point that my husband could revoke them if he wants to, so safest option is to have guardianship. He has dementia and can not make rational decisions for himself. I will eventually run out of money paying for in-home care or nursing facility. Sometimes I feel like I will lose my mind and physical health through this. Then there will be 2 lost lives. I look forward to your, hopefully inciteful response. Thanks for posting.
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I am presently one of two independent POAs who do not agree on management/care of a mutual relative. Are there any advantages to the relative if I file for guardianship?
All I am concerned with is her safety, comfort, and care. The other POA is honest but hostile and verbally abusive when dealing with me, and makes very little contact with her, while I do all of the day to day management of her life in the NH.
Has anyone dealt with this kind of situation?
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igloo572 Aug 2018
Ann - can you do your ? as a new stand-alone post? It’s coming in under Lookig4 post. Which will get answers crossed
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If you are not POA, what is the advantage to have guardianship?
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Without any kind of POA you cannot make decisions for or manage someones finances. Guardianship is for making decisions, conservatorship is for handling finances. Attorney should be Elder Care AND know the right answers to this question. The court paperwork is LEGAL, so any facility should not be able to hold you responsible. You could perhaps also ask them about the wording and how it might impact you. It probably needs to be there for those who don't have funds, POA or guardianship. If client runs out of money, they'll want someone to be paying!!

I have not had to go this route thankfully, but did explore it because atty said we could not move her against her will, but facility would not let us do intake with guardianship (what brought me here in the first place - was between rock and hard place!)
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I you have any questions about the documents, please run it by the attorney. You do not have to pay the attorney yourself either. I know the document I signed said I was responsible for payment being made. The attorney said it did not make me liable for paying but for seeing that she paid. Payment should come out of your mom's funds.
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Looking4 - you live in another state and you mom has had geriatric psych issues was hospitalized and has had psych evaluation done, that’s the background, right? You’ve had a challenging journey for her I’d imagine to get to this point.... I’d be concerned that if you do not sign off on the NH documents that the facility will not take her as a resident. If the atty your working with is a experienced one (NAELA or CELA level of expertise) & says it’s ok, then go with it. Also if you sign off on each signature line “Jane Smith Jones in her capacity as guardian of/for Marie Smith”, it limits your exposure. Plus your a resident of another state, so the facility trying to nail you for financial responsibility will not be easy.

Geriatric psych placements are difficult . Hopefully her medications have been tweaked so her care will be manageable. Good luck!
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States with filial responsibility laws. Alaska, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada (Nevada law only addresses support of children and not support of parents.

See above amended posting.
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So glad I moved out of MA!!! We moved mom to a facility out of that state too!
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Here is some information from a legal site:

In most states, for a child to be held accountable for a parent’s bill, all of these things would have to be true:

https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/your-obligation-pay-parents-nursing-home-bill.html

In most states, for a child to be held accountable for a parent’s bill, all of these things would have to be true:

The parent received care in a state that has a filial responsibility law.
The parent did not qualify for Medicaid when receiving care.
The parent does not have the money to pay the bill.
The child has the money to pay the bill.
The caregiver chooses to sue the child.


more....

Although, in practice, these laws rarely cause children have to pay for their parents’ bills, a 2012 Pennsylvania appeals court ruled that an adult son of a nursing home resident would have to pay his mother’s $93,000 nursing home bill based on the Pennsylvania filial responsibility law.

his is a rare case because 1) the mother made just enough money through a pension not to qualify for Medicaid, and 2) the court allowed a private institution to sue the son, whereas filial responsibility laws are generally designed to empower the state to recover payments to reduce the burden on welfare.

While this is an unusual case, some practitioners wonder if rising care costs will cause more cases like this to surface.

Looking4hope:

If you live in a state with filial responsibility laws, and your attorney has not apprised you of the rare situation in PA, please get a second opinion.
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Ah, I did not see your post before I posted the same info... oops... However, even though I still suggested OP get some legal advice and have signed papers that negates those "responsibility" clauses, the rules for these "filial" laws would not likely apply because her mom is on or will be on Medicaid. The PA case was NOT Medicaid.
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I live in NC My husband has FTD. An elder law attorney has explained guardianship in this way: The individual is served with "papers" that they are to appear in a court before a judge to find out if they are incapacitated enough for someone else to be their legal guardian. A "guardian-ad-litem" will be assigned to look out for their interests and the proceedings, depending on the cooperation or not of the individual in question can take a while. If guardianship is granted the guardian is the sole individual that can make decisions, financial or health care wise for that person. You should not be financially liable for their care. You are in charge of their finances.
Depending on state where you live I hope you will give us others feedback on what you find out about placement for you mother. It's heartbreakingly hard to go through all of this, but you do the best you can, no guilt or shame. I'm learning and trying the best I can. That's all a human being can do. You are an individual just doing the best you can.
Blessings.
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A problem with the advice to ‘ask an attorney’ is that the attorney’s opinion won’t necessarily stand up in court. You are presented by the home with a standard form contract. You can cross out words and put in others (preferably suggested by your attorney) that clearly avoid personal liability for you. You initial them and keep a copy of the amended document. If the establishment won’t accept it, then you know that you are in trouble. If they accept it on the basis that ‘that’s what we always expected’, then neither you nor they have a problem. If they say ‘that’s our normal practice’ but refuse to accept an amended document, your line is that they need to consult their own attorney to make sure that the standard form reflects their normal practice.
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Although I still think that the attorney (assuming Elder Care), the court and/or the facility should be able to clear this up. I personally would not sign anything that says I would be responsible unless we all understand I am NOT and I have something in writing signed by all that negates those nasty words!

That said, while reading the latest comments, this thought came up: In some cases there is no family member who can or will take on guardianship, so the state assigns an unrelated guardian to manage everything (finances and decisions). So, that person would have to sign this facility paperwork as the incompetent person could not. Do you really think a court-appointed person would pay out of their own pocket if the facility decides it needs more?

When Medicaid is used, any income the person has (SS, pension, etc) goes right to the facility and Medicare pays the arranged remainder. If this is all agreed to, how can they come back on you? Mom is in a place where we are self-paying. If I stopped paying them, sure, they would come after me/us for the payments. But if it is Medicaid? If they are not getting paid by any of the sources (SS, pension, Medicaid), it should be the source they go after, not the person managing affairs.

Without knowing all the details in that PA case, it is hard to say what the deal was. Did the son sign the paperwork signing her in? Were they self-paying and payments stopped/money ran out? This got me curious, so here's what I found in https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/your-obligation-pay-parents-nursing-home-bill.html:

EXCERPT FROM ABOVE:
Generally Not Enforced
Most states that have filial responsibility laws don’t enforce them, here’s why: Most elders who can’t pay for care receive federal assistance through Medicaid, and federal law specifically prohibits going after adult children. Also, most folks who need help paying for nursing home care qualify for Medicaid and it’s unusual for someone to rack up a large bill before qualifying. So, because there is so little opportunity to apply filial responsibility laws, they very rarely affect families.
In most states, for a child to be held accountable for a parent’s bill, all of these things would have to be true:
The parent received care in a state that has a filial responsibility law.
The parent did not qualify for Medicaid when receiving care.
The parent does not have the money to pay the bill.
The child has the money to pay the bill.
The caregiver chooses to sue the child.

That case in PA is considered "a rare case because 1) the mother made just enough money through a pension not to qualify for Medicaid, and 2) the court allowed a private institution to sue the son, whereas filial responsibility laws are generally designed to empower the state to recover payments to reduce the burden on welfare."

So it appears that these filial laws are designed more to recover payments the government feels they are owed (perhaps how they can recoup funds from sale of a home after the fact.) But they also question if this will become more commonplace with the tsunami of elders who need assistance and cannot afford it and/or do not qualify for Medicaid.
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RUN as fast as you can from anyone telling you to file or sign legal documents pertaining to guardianships and conservatorships! Learn quickly about the torture, stress, anxiety, losses, isolation, separation, fraud, and much more that thousands of Americans in every state of our country have been subjected to because our legal and justice system is BROKEN regarding probate, guardianships, conservatorships, POAs, trusts, estates, wills, etc.

"Broken" is the term the police have used in explaining why they can't do anything to help despite the credit card fraud, the domestic assaults, the elder-napping, the lack of proper medical attention, the isolation from families, et al.

I have lived this nightmare for five+ years while literally fighting to provide my 90+ year mother the care and lifestyle she wanted and deserved as well as follow the clear instructions spelled out in legal documents prepared years earlier by both my parents. This should not be happening in the USA but it is and it must be stopped!

Don't believe me? Then check out...
"Guardianship and the Elderly: The Perfect Crime" by Sam Sugar, MD, a MUST READ book for anyone and everyone facing the reality of aging, long term care, and dying today.

Imagine a system of justice in this country that strips its citizens of their constitutional rights, voids their existing legal documents, gives others the right to spend their money and sell their assets, isolates them, and has the ability to limit the time they can spend with their loved ones.

While you may be thinking of the criminal justice system, the previous description refers to a parallel structure that preys on the elderly and is determined to deem them unable to care for themselves. It is a system that allows those in control to take full advantage of their “wards of the state”—legally and under the watchful eyes of judges. It is called guardianship. 
 
Guardianship exists in every state, and it has gone under the radar for many decades.  The tsunami of fraud and financial exploitation that is suddenly, silently and ever so unexpectedly striking our country (and around the world) is creating a new cottage industry of professionals focused on transferring trust and estate assets to their own bank accounts.

With due respect to the good attorneys, I can't say the legal industry is bad. But what I will say is the legal industry knows and has known about this corruption for DECADES! It is beyond belief, it is beyond reprehensible, and it is beyond the tipping point of turning a blind eye.

No one is immune from this travesty, from this violation of civil and human rights! There are only two sides to this injustice to our parents, our grandparents, our aging friends, neighbors, relatives...

You can either be a part of the PROBLEM, or you can be a part of the SOLUTION.
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dkentz72 Aug 2018
WOW! I don't know where you live or what attorneys you've dealt with, hence my starting with a very GREAT paralegal!
Our daughter is an RN and more times than I can count, she has saved lives from Drs who don't take the time to read charts 1st. It's the same way between paralegals/attorneys.
With the help of this paralegal, I represented myself in Court and wiped the floor with the attorneys AND the Judge!
NOW I do have an attorney who actually has a practice, over 75% of her practice, to go after those who take advantage of the elderly as well as abusive family members. Like I stated in my post, she looked over EVERYTHING I had done before/since my appointment and she told me she has never had a client so organized and up to date with Court orders.
I TOOK CHARGE not the attorneys or the Judge....I DID.
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I was told by many a professional (legal, financial counselor, CPA) to NEVER 😣 use your own funds for your parent's care
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No you won't be held liable for any of her financial obligations....her estate is held accountable which YOU will have to handle.
I just became our Mom's guardian/conservator in July. Mom really did well thinking about what her future would be, very well.

Here is the caveat that the attorney may not be telling you.

1. You will need to petition the Court
2. There will be a background check as well as having an interview with a Court investigator
3. If you have siblings, they will ALL have to be "notified" as interested parties regarding your intentions and they will have the right to contest or sign off their rights to attend and accept, BUT they NEVER lose their right to contest IF they think you're abusing your position and her finances
4. Talk with a paralegal (just like RNs, they know more than the attorney), it can save you thousands of dollars.
I have the best ever paralegal who helped me and she still does transversing me thru "other" legal systems no one would ever know exist
5. You can represent yourself too. I had been researching laws etc for more than 3 yrs because I knew my siblings would walk out on Mom once Mom's Alzheimer's got so bad they didn't want to care for her....just waiting for the $$$.
BE PREPARED IF YOU CHOOSE TO GO THIS WAY.
The paralegal who helped me said that she knew that by the end of the hearing, I'd be telling the judge/attorneys they were wrong and why....I did, FUN!
6. IF you have step-siblings, they are NOT CONSIDERED "interested" parties and therefore are not notified. ONLY your Father or Stepfather must be notified since he is married to your Mother
7. Here's where the fun begins, you're appointed and now you have a mound of paperwork to climb. Schedules that must be met.
a) financial report to see if her estate is sustainable to care for her for the years she may have left
b) any unrestricted money must be placed in a POA, Guardian or Conservator account....get that done now ONCE you have Durable Power of attorney
c) keep fastidious records of ALL the money you spend from HER account as stated in B, Excel is great
d) keep records/receipts of out of pocket you spend
*research you States' process to do this. There are modules you must do, certified and presented to the Court*
e) where will you place your Mom & the cost, this will be part of the financial report
I have spent 99.9% of my time keeping up on everything I must do for Mom and her best interest. I have a shelf of 3 ring binders of bank, investment statements, emails/letters from my butthead step-sister/her attorney so stupid, both of them. Conversations with my siblings notated etc
Ask yourself if you can truly do this, but remember that if you don't then you'll be paying a "professional" appointed by the Court as well as a Fiduciary attorney.
After my appointment, I had to hire an attorney to go after my step-sister who "stole" $40.000 from Mom BEFORE I finally told my siblings they needed to agree that I become Guardianship/conservator (my banking background was the defining factor).
Be prepared for the State to step in should your Mom not have the financial ability to pay her debts.
KNOW the difference between Community property law and Commom property laws,9 States are still Community property, thank goodness AZ still is so Mom's sole/property, includes her money is not considered to be part of my step-father's. This pisses off the step-siblings big time. Daddy came into the marriage with nothing.
I have 1 required issue left to do and that is having ALL of Mom's assets appraised, meaning her real property as well as separating her/his/theirs
Someone in the family needs to take charge, but remember family can steal just as well as any other thief
Forgot, IF the State "helps" they are #1 in the line to get their money before those who are still owed by the estate. The only money no one can touch outside of the estate is anyone who is beneficiary to life insurance or stated as such on bank account
GOOD LUCK and prayers
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The Pennsylvania case (Pittas) that Disgusted2 & Heather mentioned is not at all the usual elderly parent situation. What happened for Pittas in PA is imo realistically not a situation one would likely ever find themselves dealing with.

For Pittas, his mom was young -like 61- and was in an auto accident which hospitalized her and then discharged to a facility for rehab. Pittas mom was not an elderly mom in her 80’s or 90’s on MediCARE. The payment Medicare does for hospitalization & “rehab” was not there to offset her bill. She applied for Medicaid while in rehab.

THEN his mom left rehab AND left the US.
Left the country without completing Medicaid application.

She moved BACK to Greece where her husband lived & she is a citizen of. She moved back home leaving her debt behind her. Son was listed as the point person for his mom in admissions paperwork. Rehab filed debt collections against mom & Sonny. Sonny took rehab to arbitration. Arbitration found in his favor. Sonny “won” in arbitration. Then rehab facility (part of a national chain) filed a lawsuit against Sonny. The admissions contract allowed for then to ignore arbitration decision. Lawsuit heard before a judge. No jury. Judge ruled in facility’s favor with a judgement against Son for abt 90k for a 3 mo rehab stay.

To me, it’s more an indigent debtor story. It’s not a typical elderly situation. Our folks aren’t in their early 60s & going off on thier own to Greece to live. At best closest to anything Greek maybe, just maybe, we could do is get them to watch Mamma Mia 1. MammaMia2 is pretty unwatchable.....
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Great add to the info we had. I did not bother to explore further, because it clearly was not the usual "case" and mainly pointed out that if you're on Medicaid, they can only go after anything untoward in the 5 year "look back" or house/asset sales.

I feel for the guy, but THAT IS what those filial laws are more intended for. Of course any law can be abused, twisted, contorted, but again this was, with your input, pretty clear cut.
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I also find this very confusing. I do not have guardianship of my father, just a POA. I had to place him briefly last year in a memory care facility, and I had read all the advice up front advising me to sign the "admittance" paperwork only as "POA for X," and not to sign that I was accepting any personal financial liability for his contract with the facility. I didn't anticipate any problems with this, as my father has both a long-term care insurance policy and enough monthly income in pension and social security to cover his expenses at the home for many years. But they told me their policy was that they simply would not accept him as a resident if I did not essentially co-sign to accept financial responsibility if his assets ran out. I didn't have a choice. I had to sign. The facility was a disaster for Dad, and I decided to pull him out after 10 days ... but ever since, I have wondered about all the advice not to sign for personal financial liability. If facilities won't accept your loved one unless you do, what choice do you have?
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Toadhall Aug 2018
In my state there is an agency that deals with what a facility can do. This business of co-signing is probably against the government rules. Unless you contact the government agency and complain, the facility does what they want. I've had some facilities try to do some shady things. I've always said, I have to run this by my loved one's lawyer. I say that and they back off every time. I called the government agency to report the situation and they said that they can't do the shady thing they were trying.
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I am not an attorney, but I do not think you would be responsible.  It is only her funds (including the 5 year typical lookout period).  You should be fine
Just never sign anything volunteering otherwise, which I doubt you would be asked to.
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Health 2018..
I was in a tough spot, I went in to a lawyers office hoping to get a Will and Trusts done but after talking to my husband for a few minutes this ONE lawyer said that he did not think my husband was able to make decisions. So I sort of "fell into" the Guardianship.
I guess I felt that it was ridiculous to have to save receipts if I bought him a pair of pants or shoes. When we moved to a house that was built Handicap accessible I could not use the money from the sale of the house (his house prior to our marriage and I was not on the deed) but I could "charge him rent" as well as "charge" him for cable, phone, gas, electric, newspaper, food, and other household expenses. Funny thing is I had paid the property taxes on his house, all the other bills including gas, electric, garbage but yet it was not considered also "my" house. I guess it just did not seem "fair" at the time. It is not like I was out to "steal" money from him. I can understand a Guardianship in some circumstances and I guess they can not distinguish between.
All in all I thought that the only people that come out a head are the lawyers, judges and the county court.
So after all this I guess it did have to be done. Probably would not have had to be done if he had put my name on the deed to property. Then all I would have needed would have been POA for Health and Finances.
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Grandma. You are so right it’s a complicated expensive mess. Instead of enjoying quality time with our loved ones this is what can happen. I’m sorry your are going through this and I’m seriously still not sure what we can do but jump through hoops. Btw I found a copy of her poa and will before the dementia behind her dresser drawer at her home but guess what ?—the state has
custody so it’s useless now she tried to prepare but got scared and paranoid from the brain disease ( that it what it is !) Dementia is dangerous in that it can sneak up on your loved one and create paranoia or many disorganized issues/thoughts in their minds and even the best daughter in the world could not convince them otherwise By the time you can get a diagnosis you may have no choice but a forced guardianship or just state ward. I think it’s so sad that the doctor my mom had did dementia and actually did place a diagnosis on her but Left me as the only child with this unfixabke mess. I had asked him to please not Let this happeb but no one listens .I’m very upset with the system and how this turned out but what can you do ??? Prayers to you and your family. It’s a hard journey
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I was just recently reading up a bit on signing s guardian. The instructions said tonever sign your name only but to sign your name and include the "guardian for so & so". This implied that the person receiving care was the responsible party and not the guardian.
But please check with an elder care lawyer to see what your state says.
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I had refused to sign anything where it said I would be held liable! You are not obligated to no matter what, so please read it carefully and don’t let them push you into that. If you have a elder care attorney have them look over the paperwork first too! My attorney that I got for my moms Medicaid application contacted the nursing home directly!
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