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I signed the admission agreement when she was put in the nursing home as a "Designated Representative." There is no will and she had no children and no money. Am I responsible for this??

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The first thing anyone should do when contacted by a collection agency is to ask for proof of debt. They have to be able to prove there is a debt or there is no debt. This stops many collections dead in their tracks. Since many times, the collections agencies don't get the supporting documentation to prove there is a debt when they buy the debt.

Now whether you want to do that at this point is up to you. I'm not sure I would based on the information presented so far.
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JoAnn29 Mar 21, 2019
I did do this with a CA and they had no invoices to prove debt ans the amounts didn't jive with records I had. Had to call the doctors office, whole thing was their fault. They billed me wrong and took what payment I made wasn't applied correctly so totals CA gave me were not right.
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Sounds to me like they are trying to pull a fast one by slurring their words - making you think that 'designated representative' must somehow be the semantic equivalent of 'responsible party.'

Well, it isn't. But you might spend a useful hour or two combing through the contract to see if it contains any definitions of terms that could conceivably mean that you accidentally accepted this peculiar construction of 'designated representative' when you signed her in.

The 'third party issuers' paragraph isn't going to be the important one - that's just about filling in gaps from insurers' or plan providers' funding. What you want to focus on is all sections to do with acceptance of responsibilities by 'representatives' or 'delegates.'

it is *just* possible that you will stumble in horror over a clause that states 'the designated representative agrees blah blah blah.'

Let's assume there isn't one. You do need to write back promptly rejecting all personal responsibility for your aunt's debts at her death.

You then sort out what happens with her assets, especially the bank account. Go to an attorney who does NOT charge you $800 (!) to open a safety deposit box to which you did not have title (?!) and is not too bone idle to look up how much the required notices cost (probably not that much, plus it comes out of that bank account).

Or, look up intestacy rules for your state and see what happens if you don't do anything about your aunt's estate. It might be less trouble to leave it to the default process. Was she a US citizen?
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rovana Mar 21, 2019
This is a really good answer - especially about just leaving it to the state. Doesn't sound to me like OP is actually required to "fix" Aunt's mess.
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If you signed nothing saying you are responsible for her care, then you are not. Designated Representative does not sound like you excepted responsibility to pay anything. I think they have a name and went with it. Did the letter come certified?

This is a collection agency not the NH. The NH has sold their receivables. They try anything they can to get their money. Was your Aunt on Medicaid? Was the home her payee for SS? If yes, then why is there a balance. You need to contact the Nursing home and find out why there is a balance. If a person dies before end of month, not sure if family is responsible for balance of month or that NH can even bill since no care has been given. Not sure how Medicaid works in that respect. My Mom died on the 23rd and I was never contacted there was a balance owed to NH. I do owe Medicaid but thats not till house sells.

I just read that 30 states make it mandatory for "children" to pay medical and NH bills. Nothing about other relatives. Maybe the CA thinks your Aunts child. I am surprised you heard nothing from the NH in two years.

Get all the information you can. Office of Aging may have a number for legal aide. It may just take a letter to the CA stating you are not responsible and Aunt had no estate.

I wouldn't worry about the French end of it. There was no estate.

You don't need to probate if there was no estate. If Aunt had some money and you needed to pay bills then thru probate you can sign an affidavit saying that the estate is under 20k. You would have been given a short certificate to handle being able to get to her bank account to pay bills. If she was on Medicaid, she was not allowed more than maybe 2k in the bank.

Please, don't let these people get to you. Don't even contact them till you know what is going on. The FTC has rules for CA and believe me they don't follow them. Since they sent a letter to FILs address, tell him next time one is sent, put "No one by this name at this address". FIL to except no certified letters for same reason. Will look like you excepted them. Really, I think your just a name they were given.
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Don't just block the number, you need to actual do something about this because it's won't just go away. There are laws to deter collections agencies from harassment, look them up for your state. And since this is a fairly large bill it will be well worth your while to take the papers you signed to a lawyer to have them looked over to see whether or not you have any obligation.
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Other caregivers who know the answer to your question will be able to help.
In the meantime, do not panic.
Searching this site may bring up past answers on this topic. However, consult your lawyer for legal advice.

What is the specific wording on the letter that points to your own personal responsibility for the debt? Versus an indication that you are responsible as her representative to see that it is paid from her funds, not your own.

Are there any tax refunds pending, health insurance payments pending, life insurance proceeds? Did she have an allowance account (personal items)
managed by the nursing home that may have accumulated, and did they report the balance to you?
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The paperwork states "Third party issuers may require a deductible and/or co-insurance payment to the facility. The resident and responsible party agrees to meet these obligations and understands that the payment obligations under this Agreement include such payment." The problem is my Aunt did not have a will nor did she have any children and her husband is deceased. I know she has a little money in the bank but I cant touch anything since I am not listed on the account. I have consulted with an attorney back in 2016 since I knew she had a safety deposit box to see if there was a will in it. I paid him out of pocket $800.00 to open the box. There are coins and paperwork in the box which will stay there. My Aunt was born in France and my attorney said that he would have to contact an attorney in France to put an ad in the paper to see if she has any heirs in her hometown. I just left it alone since I cannot bear the expense.
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Thanks to everyone. I am sending a certified return receipt letter to them today with a copy of her death certificate which list the city in France where she was born. I have also included in the letter that I reject all personal responsibility for her debt at the time of her death. I will keep you all updated.
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Designated representative does not mean responsible party.

Did you do probate to access her assets? I would think that would help you get everything to a done.

Hopefully someone that understands how probate works will chime in.

You paid an atty 800.00 and he didn't advice you to open probate? I would file a complaint with the BAR association, that's just ridiculous that he charged so much and in reality did nothing.
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rovana Mar 21, 2019
But what do the words "designated representative" actually mean legally in the jurisdiction in question? Poster was not POA.
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Other posters will have ideas, and of course, be sure to read the paperwork you signed very carefully. Sounds like you were not POA - so what exactly, legally, does designated representative mean?  How were you thinking that this bill would be paid?
Perhaps, have the state step in as emergency guardian? I hope this can get resolved, but it doesn't sound like you have the authority.
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SCAREY59 Mar 21, 2019
Thanks Rovana. Can you suggest other posters that may be helpful? Thanks.
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Can you just do a newspaper ad in France that states you are looking for relatives of aunt and publish that for 4 weeks to show good faith efforts? I wouldn't say heirs, can bring scam artists out of the wood work.

Attorneys will never tell you how to do it yourself, conflict of their best interests.

Scare tactics work, doesn't mean that they can do it. I would send them a certified letter stating that you are not responsible, you never signed taking responsibility and you will not be paying.

There is a law that says if you don't respond in writing within 30 days you are agreeing with the information provided by the other party. Respond with a resounding- no!

Do some research, I bet you can do a publication search that would be legal. You can divorce someone that way when you don't know where they are.
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rovana Mar 21, 2019
I don't see that OP needs to worry about Aunt's estate/possible heirs. No will, so OP is not executor? Right? I'd just leave the mess to whoever wants it.   But I would reply to collection agency that it is not your debt.
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