If my parents are currently in debt and have no power of attorney will I be responsible for their debt when they pass away?

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Don't sign anything in your name, and you are not responsible. Debt collectors will come after the estate though. This would be any property that parents own, that can be sold to pay off debt. If there is a house, and it is mortgaged, and their is also equity built in it, it would have to be sold and whatever is left after the mortgage is paid off would be part of the estate, this would go towards paying off other debts. Also vehicles, household belongings, etc.... It is your responsibility to see that the estate is resolved whether there is a will or not, and debtors are first in line to those assets unfortunately, not the children.
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annt you bring up very good issues.... If everyone on earth was honest and careing about each other,with a pure heart, relative or stranger or acquaintance, we wouldn't have most of the problems on this planet. Unfortunately there are laws and rules and money to be made from all of this distrust. Fortunately the upside to this type of frustration and truehearted careing, that has no conception, of greed and abuse, carries a feeling from doing the right thing that eventually becomes a peace that nothing else on the earth can ever equal. A PEACEFUL HEART that you've earned and that is an asset I am proud to take to my grave!
I am very aware of others in this situation. It's almost like a door has opened to help others. They are coming out of the woodwork, not only on this site but in my everyday life. I try to guide these people who really care, in hope they can act before a crisis situation occurs. annt... you are absolutely right , early awareness and planning is key.
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When you have a POA or DPOA and you are required to sign for the person - sign your name then write " as POA (or DPOA) for - - - - (fill in that person's name)". DO NOT just sign your name alone to anything without adding "as POA for. . . . . ".
This is in the state of Fl. and was told to me by 3 elder law attorneys.
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AK - first of all you are not legally responsible for your parents debt if it is something they signed for. Their debts die with them and the debt goes to their estate. Whomever is the executor for them, now has this to deal with and all this is done through probate court. Probate totally varies by the state. In TX where i've been executrix twice, it's pretty easy but can be extremely time consuming. One key with probate is that the executor can take their time to do it. That wears family in-fighting and creditors down. So you could drag it out too forever if there is a good reason to.

Debts in probate are divided into secured and unsecured. Secured is like if they still have a mortgage or a car note - those need to be settled/paid before they can be transferred to the new owner or inheiritor. Federal $$ owed like to the IRS or MERP (Medicaid estate recovery) are secured debts. Unsecured ones - like credit cards, medical bills- may or may not have to be paid. Most of the time those are just SOL.

If they did a living will then they usually don't go through probate and an attorney usually needs to handle this.

There is a whole other sticky out there in filial responsibility states if you signed for them personally or are their POA.....My experience is in TX & FL in dealing with family Both are not filial responsibility so I've really haven't dealt with that but one of my BFF has a mom in PA and that state has been aggressive in doing filial responsibility which is a total worry for her.

Alot of what to do really depends on what the debts are, your parents ages, what you anticipate their needs to be and what their assets are. This makes a real difference on how to approach all this.

If they have a home then it can have a lien against it. This requires going through the courts and getting a judgement so you can go to the courthouse to see if that has happened. This can be done on-line too. In Texas and FL, credit card debt
cannot get a judgement placed as a lien on their home, in other states they can.
The lien will show up in probate and will have to be satisfied in order for title of the home to transfer.

If they have assets that are not federally protected (like Social Security, a federal annuity or railroad retirement), then a creditor can go after that money. If that is your case, then your parents need to have the federally protected money go into it's own separate bank account. This account cannot be seized or touched. If
those payments are going into an account that is co-mingled with other $$ or Godforbid - your $$, then it can be seized.

If your folks really have no home or real income or assets, then it's IMHO all a matter of sending crease and desist letters return registered mail to the creditors.
It'll take about a year or so for all this to run it's debt collection route.

Whatever the situation you really need to have done: DPOA; MPOA; a will and also a "Guardianship in case of incapacity". Multiple original copies all signed in blue ink with a notary seal. I'm a firm believer in having an attorney who has their practice in the county/parish where the elder resides or their homestead is do all this. Well worth it if it ever is contested by family or creditors.

annt - VA is a nightmare!
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The estate will be responsibile.
Do not trust their telling you who has what document.
See their will and any other documents that designate you or anyone.
Talk to an ELDER ATTORNEY for a consult.
It cost $150 for peace of mind. different states have different views of estate and POA or health directives.
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I would think it would vary state to state.

My advice is to consult a lawyer. In Texas, most will meet with you the first time free of charge for a consultation. (and charge after that)
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It's mind boggling what you have to go through sometimes to help your parents. My mom and dad both were civil servants and retired from the VA Hospital. The VA does not recognize a POA. All I wanted to do was change her bank account number. Her previous account had my brother as a signer and he was seriously abusing her funds. When she came to live with me in a town 30miles away, I wanted to change her account. Same bank just a different account, but because she was unable to come into the bank and request it herself I had to apply to the OPM of the VA and ask to be assigned as her payee. That took two months and now I will have to send monthly reports to them about how her funds are being used. Like I need more work to do. Nothing is easy after they become disabled or too sick to help take care of these things. I wish I had done most of this earlier in the game. And a lot of parents don't understand that we are not trying to take away their independence or their money or whatever,.....we just need to do these things in order to help them later when they really need it. The earlier you can do what's necessary the better....just sayin....
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Your answers here are all excelent. I have a very trusted, wise, attorney to do my Durable POA papers. He did not notorize them someone else did, the bank where Mom's checking was hesitant because of this but they are a good bank that's why she used them. they finally said OK, because who notorized didn't matter. I'm in NJ. The Papers covered everything under the sun, so we thought. There may be difficulty with how the wording is stated, to OK any specific transactions or any changes that you may need to do, it all depends on what the company or bank or insurance company policys are. I had trouble because Mom had an account set up as everyone else knows as an IRA. Her papers stated that I could do transfers, close account, withdrawals bascically everything I would need to do. Here's where the problem is in the words, the company had a different name for an IRA account for privacy purposes a "RAINBOW" account let's call it. The legal team would not except the wording as IRA it needed to state specifics. It need to say as POA I am granted the power to withdraw funds from "RAINBOW" account. If I needed to change the address let's say I would have needed to say specifs as well and so on. With that said...I would call the companys or banks you need to deal with and ask ahead of signing what is accepted in the wording on the papers. My attorney was even baffled!!! Think about any detail you need to accomplish with each account , transfers, address changes, income taxes taken out, to stop or allow on accounts, etc. I was given a hard time just because I needed a letter stating that her life insurance was payable only upon death. All because that was not written on the POA papers that I needed that letter......just a letter. I eventually begged and pleaded I think they only accepted cause I was deperate and out of my mind calling them about it and it was only paper not money. I still have unfinished business due to the wording that is not stated. They are legal papers that are not taken lightly especially when it come to the might old $$$$!!!!!!! Just trying to save people from unexpected headaches down the road. The words "and", and "or", & "and/or" are small but where they are placed in a sentence could mean a world of difference.
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FYI - In the State of Florida a Power of Attorney or Durable POA does not have to be drawn up or signed by an attorney. I went online and basically made a POA and durable POA applicable to my mother's condition, situation, finances, etc., with information from various sites. I'm an only child so there was no one to contest anything, and mom wanted me doing everything anyway. Yes, I put in more conditions than I knew I would ever need but it's better to have more in there than not. She then signed them in front of a notary - who also had to notarize on the durable POA that she was mentally competent at the time of signing. It sure saved us a lot of money. I had to use the POA numerous times for mom and everyone that saw that POA was impressed with the contents. I made sure mom signed every single page and even numbered the pages 1 of 5, 2 of 5, etc., so that there was no question whatsoever. When I presented the POA to numerous individual when I signed for mom - they were impressed that "her lawyer went to soooo much trouble to make sure everything was above and beyond what they saw in the past". They were shocked to then learn that I drew it up. They said it was the most accurate, concise and nonquestable POA they ever saw. So just a thought if you want to save some money - but check with your State first to make sure it doesn't have to be drawn up by an attorney or signed by one. Good luck!
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No you are not responsible for your parents debt. If when they pass away they have no assests then the creditors are out of luck. It dosent matter if you personally sign anything or not you are not responsible for their debt when they are gone.
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