My 92 year old Mom passed away on July 5. She has a bill from the nursing home and she will have some medical bills.
Who is responsible to pay them? I was her POA, but that status disappeared when she died. Do I send them back and say she died? Will they come after me?

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Was your mother's nursing home bill being paid by you in cash from her accounts? If the answer is 'no' then Medicaid was paying for it and you owe them nothing.
You are right that POA expires after a person dies. Whoever is executor of her Will is now responsible for probating her estate and paying any bills that she had.
You no longer have legal authority to write checks out to her debtors. Whoever is the executor of her will is the one who does this now and cannot do it until her estate has been probated.
There's nothing to be done for it right now. The bill collectors and the greedy nursing home will just have to wait.
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to BurntCaregiver

Sorry for your loss.

If there were any assets of mom's left, these need to be used to settle her "debts."

Do beware, as JoAnn29 said, SS is paid in arrears - same as how we get paid when working, after the fact. So, if SS isn't notified in time, the August check could hit her account. DON'T let that be spent or withdrawn, SS will take it back (if it's electronic deposit - if it is still a check, DON'T cash it. Void it and wait for SS letter which will say where to send it back to.

If mom had NO assets, then most likely the bills will remain unpaid. IF she did still have assets (bank accounts, house, car, etc.) someone will need to check with the courts - probate may be needed. Legal advice would be great - some attys will allow a limited first time consult for free, but if there's any money left it should be used to pay the atty. Legal advice would be best for distributing any funds/assets that are left. There may be priorities. There may be exclusions.

My mother's monthly MC bill was already paid (and nothing was reimbursed for the partial month she wasn't there!) Her Medicare and other medical ins payments were deducted from her SS. The funeral director neglected to notify SS, so when the alert I set up for the Rep Payee account went off, I knew the funds were there and just waited for them to take it back, which they did, but not before sending nasty mail, which was dated AFTER the funds had been withdrawn, demanding I pay back the amount. I wrote nasty mail back to them! She really had no other bills at that point, we'd sold her condo before that and all assets were in a trust. Most of that has been distributed to us - I held back some as there will be a final trust tax return for this year AND filing mom's final as well, should we need it.

I opened probate because the refund of her MC deposit, plus the $600 stimulus and some other small amounts are not chump change. The EC atty told me to deposit it and not tell the bank she passed! Augh. I don't need the courts, state, IRS up my butt thanks. What a jerk. It's not like $20!!! So far all is posted to probate and they are waiting for reconciliation, but she was shorted the first stimulus, so currently waiting for that to come in (as well as my own $600 stimulus, which never arrived - all articles indicate we might be waiting for a long long time to get these!!!) Once all funds are in the estate account (you can get a Tax ID online - free!), bills would be paid first, but there are none. Then we get to divide it up per her will, but first exec fees are paid.

Anyway, if you can find an atty who specializes in this and they do free consults, it might be best to go that route. Perhaps the atty who set up the POAs? Whether she has assets or not, you need legal advice, not advice from what people think is the right way to do it! There can be IRS and state implications as well as demands from those who provided services. For instance, if she has no assets left and this isn't done right, the billers can send delinquent accounts to collections and THOSE jerks will make your life miserable!
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Reply to disgustedtoo
BurntCaregiver Jul 27, 2021

If she's the executor of her mother's Will she will not need a lawyer. She can file the Will in the probate court herself and they will notify her when it's been cleared and she can start selling off property and paying off debts that were owed.
I truly hope you stay all the way up the a$$es of the Memory Care facility your mom was in if they owe you money. Don't ever let that go. Believe me, if they were owed one dime for her stay they'd chase you to Hell and back to get it.
You do the same. I did. When my father died, the nursing home owed me money. I harassed them both night and day on the phone, though email, and in person. It took them almost a year to pay back what they owed, but they paid it. Never let that go until they make you whole.
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Whoever is the executor of her estate should pay whatever bills remain outstanding from her estate. As her POA, you should not pay any bills from your own resources.

Some POAs have been duped by signing a financial liability clause that states that the POA/family member will assume the debt of their loved one. If that is your case, please contact a lawyer that deals with elder law and/or estate law pronto.
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Reply to Taarna

My condolences.

At an elder law seminar, we were told some states give rights to go after children’s income, even if the children expressly disagreed with the choice to go to a nursing home, the extravagant care, cost, etc.

This site explains “familial responsibility”

“Simply put, in the states that have a filial responsibility law, a nursing home can sue an adult child to cover the cost of unpaid nursing home bills. However, these laws are very rarely enforced, which is largely in part due to the creation of Medicaid.”

If mom has no assets (estate), it’s easier for the nursing home to collect from Medicaid than sue (and the elder lawyer said nursing homes don’t have to sue equally. They can choose to sue only one high wealth family member for the entire amount. I gather that family member is left to collect from siblings.)
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to Erikka

The estate pays the bills - whatever she has left to divide at the time of her death. If there is nothing in the estate - nothing that is going to require probate to transfer things into heir names - then return the bills and say deceased. The best they can do at that point is wait to see if probate is filed in county where she died and try to claim some money. If you signed any agreements with her, you may be held responsible. On a post somewhere here, someone said in their state, the children can be held financially obligated, so you might ask an atty about that for your state.
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Reply to my2cents

If Mom had a will, under certain conditions it does not have to be probated but the Executor still needs to get a "short certificate" giving them the ability to pay bills, work with the bank, creditors, etc. If Mom has no will, then you become the Administrator or sign an affidavit saying (in my state) that she has less than 20k in assets. Both you get a "short certificate". The Administrator will answer to the state showing an accounting.
If any money is left, the state will determine who the beneficiaries are. With an affidavit you don't need to answer to anyone.

If you Mom has any money it should pay for her bills. Hospital bills Medicare should be picking up 80% of what they think is reasonable and the 20% picked up by the secondary. She may have copays and deductables that need to be met so that will leave balances. If it were me, I would pay all the small bills first and then the NH bill.

Be aware though, Mom died the beginning of July and the check she receives in July is her June earnings so she deserves that check. If this check is pulled back by SS, it is an error and you need to call them. She is not entitled to the check she would receive in August, its July earnings and she died in July. You do not receive SS for the month you die. So, if u should receive a check in August, do not spend it. SS will find their error and pull the check back.

When Mom's money is gone, its gone. You are not obligated to pay her bills. You can't be made to. Not your debit.
Helpful Answer (4)
Reply to JoAnn29

I'm sorry for your loss

If mom did have any assets (home and/or car bank, investment accounts, etc) that were in her name and she had not named a beneficiary for them, then yes, you'd have to go open probate, and use whatever the value you could get from the assets to pay any outstanding debts.

Since the NH and medical probably know of her death, they will have a certain time to file a claim, which they probably will do.

You're not responsible for the debts, the Estate, if opened is.
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to Cover99

I’m sorry for your loss. Mom’s money and assets will be used to pay her bills. If she had no money at all, it doesn’t make you responsible for any debts you didn’t co-sign on.
Helpful Answer (3)
Reply to Daughterof1930

Does she have an estate? If so the executor should pay the bills from the estate. If not that’s different but I will let someone more knowledgeable comment.
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Reply to Carolann2244

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