I don't wan't to be financially liable for my father who abused me as a child and is now a stranger. What's the right thing to do?

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Father had 2 strokes. His life was a mess. No idea what to do. I'm scared and confused. Thank you for taking the time to read my story. I don't know who to turn to or ask, I don't know anyone that's been through what I'm about to tell you. As a child my alcoholic father abused myself and my mother, physically and verbally. I won't go into details, but at the age of 10-11 my mother divorced him after he threatened my life when I was trying to protect her. They received joint-custody. I never saw him again. In my mid-20's I tried to reconcile with him but it didn't work out, so I went on with my life. Now in my 30's he's had two strokes in the course of two weeks and everyone has turned to me. He stayed in the hospital for one week and was dismissed to go home, only to have the second stroke a week later. This put him in for another week. He has medicare. The hospital's social workers asked me to approve a plan of care and open up referrals to nursing homes. One replied and I was told I had to sign the agreement to pay as the Resident's Agent using his assets and income, and to help them apply for medicaid if an extended stay is necessary. If I wouldn't have signed the document I was told he would sit at the hospital and it wouldn't be covered by medicare, but that medicare would cover 20 days 100% at the nursing home. So I did what any good person did and signed them, hoping he would get better. He's not getting better, and he has no estate planning done. He has been irresponsible his whole life. Once I figured out where he lived and I went and visited his ex-wife from a year ago was there, and her grandson who is living off a couch. My father withdrew his full retirement from his accounts every month and paid everything with cash, and he's a hoarder. The smell was horrible but I bagged as many papers as I could and I've been attempting to identify his accounts. Now the nursing home's medicaid attorney would like me to get a DPOA to access his accounts to assist with the medicaid process. I would also need DPOA to access his account so I can pay his mortgage and bills. I don't want the responsibility for any of this, is there a way out? What's the right thing to do? I don't wan't to be financially liable for a man that abused me as a child and is a stranger. I'm lost.

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Few more thoughts:

1. I haven't done any research on this, and I'm not quoting any statute I remember having reading, but I'm not sure why someone at the nursing home would have the option of not honoring a "nonresponsible letter." But the issue of your having executed the documents on behalf of your father may be the turning factor. So focus on that.

2. Did you read all the documentation before you signed? Did you ask for time to read it? Did they pressure you to sign w/o reading? If so, then your consent might not meet the legal standards of "informed consent." Or you might have been pressured into signing "under duress." Both are legal concepts that might mitigate your execution.

And BTW, I had to invoke that premise once when a nurse wanted me to sign a surgical consent before a minor operation and I told her I needed a few moments to read the Consent.

She said the doctors were waiting, so I had to sign the consent. I told her it wouldn't be an informed consent and therefore would be invalid, and told her if I wasn't given time to sign, the operation would have to be cancelled. She insisted I sign then; I got up and walked out. I was in the waiting room explaining to my father that we would be leaving when she came out and said she had contacted the hospital's in-house counsel.

She got the hospital attorney on the phone, I spoke with him or her (don't remember), nurse backed off, I read the consent and made a lot of changes, some of which were ignored by the anesthesiologist. (I never went back to that hospital or the treating physician again.)

Sometimes you HAVE to be aggressive with people when they're trying to short circuit your legal rights.

3. RainMom hit on something I completely missed: you don't have legal authority to sign on behalf of your father, given that you don't have authority under a DPOA. It's not clear to me whether he's cognizant and aware enough to execute such a DPOA, but I think that's why you're being pressured to become proxy under one. The nursing home staff/attorney want to get you on the hook for responsibility for your father.

4. I think at this point you need some big guns to support you. As Jeanne recommends, find an elder law attorney, ASAP. You need to get some solid support to help you and protect you from being sucked into this quicksand of responsibility.
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P.S. - take the bag of papers back to your dads place and give it to the guy on the couch!
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estrangedson - I've been looking after my mother for going on six years, the first 18 months included my father. Ever hear the expression "if I only knew then what I know now"? It infuriates me the way hospitals and rehab facilities pressure and bully naive family members into believing they have no other options but to become responsible for their ailing, aged parent or family member. And when I say "become responsible" I mean they want to dump the problem into your lap regardless of how unwilling, unable, inexperienced you are. So then, when you've got this person you know you can't properly care for, you frantically look for an Assisted Living or Nursing Home to place this person - you'll sign away a vital organ if necessary to get proper care and a place for them to live. Nursing homes can be just as bad as the other places in making you think you have no other options but to sign whatever is put in front of you. I'm sorry I can't offer advice regarding a solution but you've already got some good advice from some smart, savvy people here. I just wanted to say don't beat yourself up over how you got in this predicament. You sound like a smart, good hearted person who got put into a no win situation. If you were to take a poll of the folks here who have a family member in a facility, I bet you'd find the majority of us signed whatever was put in front of us as well. Oh! While I was typing a thought hit me! Because you are not your fathers POA and since your father is not declared legally incompetent - could you get off the hook by saying you over-stepped and you had no authority to make the commitment you did? I mean, the Medicaid attorney can tell you to "get" DPOA but he ought to know its not something you just "get". It must be given to you by your father. Maybe tell them your father will not grant you DPOA. Just a thought...
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It's a giant mess.

It is Not Your Mess.

I am very sorry your got suckered into this as far as you did. I can certainly understand how that happened, though. No criticism, just regrets for you.

Here's what I suggest: Consult an attorney who specializes in Elder Law. The specialty is very important. Bring all the papers you signed. Explain that you felt coerced, you didn't have a lawyer look these over before you signed them, but as a matter of fact you feel no responsibility for your abusive no-show father and ask if you have any grounds for revoking your signature. If not, how you honor the contract with the absolute minimum of involvement. Can you hire someone (with your father's money) to fill out the Medicaid application?

Get yourself out from under this as quickly as you legally can!
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I'm fearful the nursing home will not honor such a letter, as I've signed their contract as his son that says I will pay for his nursing home care using his assets and income, and it stated they my appoint a court order to force me to apply to medicaid. I'm willing to work with them, I just don't want any liabilities or responsibilities, he's mostly a stranger to me. I've also locked up some of his guns so they wouldn't be stolen and took some of his keys. He lives in a poor neighborhood and I wasn't sure what to do, with a squatter in his house that I don't know. I don't want anything of his. I wish I was never contacted. He pays his newest ex-wife an alimony. He gets a retirement check deposited to a bank account, I'm not sure which yet. The retirement board said they don't honor a power of attorney but would honor a written letter to redirect the retirement to a different account from the nursing home or myself. He owes a mortgage on a house that isn't worth what he owes due to how dirty and dilapidated it is.

It's a giant mess.
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I think everyone "turned" to you because they didn't want the responsibility of handling the situation.

Given the history, I think you're well justified to bow out. You don't have any obligation to go to the house where he lived, to clean up the hoarded house, or to be his legal or medical proxy. What about his ex-wife? I assume she's not interested.

I think the hospital and nursing home personal are applying pressure and trying to manipulate you into assuming powers under a power of attorney, but you have to ask yourself at this point: "What's best for me", not what's best for your father.

It seems he's made some mistakes in his life, hasn't been a good father, and I don't see that you have any obligation to or for him. So tell the nursing home folks that you are unwilling (or can't) assume responsibility for him. If you're uncomfortable telling someone in person, write them a letter and send it certified.

Then continue with your own life, and try not to feel obligation or regret.
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Yes, there is a way out. You give them written notice you will not handle any more of his financial or medical bills. You tell them to make him a Ward of the State, in writing, sign off, and let the Social Worker take over.
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