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Mom with dementia can sign her name presently. However, as her disease progresses, this may not remain true. I have POA for both legal and healthcare purposes. Would this make me legally responsible for her bill if she was unable to sign herself into the hospital in the event she had to be admitted?

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If she has dementia, even if she is physically able to write her signature, she is not legally competent to make the decision to enter a hospital. You would only be required to pay the bills out of her funds.
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How do you find a "Reputable Elder Care Lawyer" My daughter , who is a lawyer in another state researched the lawyers for me and found me one, Only thing was he was a rip off artist. He charged me $1000 for a new will when I already had a legal will in another state. Another lawyer told me that was not necessary and he only did it to get the $1000. We were at her office to write a POA and HPOA for my brother in law. She was so reasonable and helpful, although she was not an "Elder Care Lawyer." I am afraid to go back to the first lawyer because of his deceitful practices.
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I live in NE and am my mothers POA. It was explained to me that I sign my mothers name, then mine, and POA after it. That way, mom is responsible and not myself. But I will be sure to read the fine print from now on also!
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No. You are signing "in place" of your mother. That is all you are doing. A signature does not entail ownership, unless you did something illegal, immoral or dangerous to her. Even though she can "sign" her name at this time, does not make it legal. She has to be "competent" to sign a document and fully understand it. Medicare and other insurances will usually pay for in-hospital stay, but don't worry about it until or IF it happens. Just enjoy her for the time she has left. Best wishes.
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When my mother entered the nursing home I signed a piece of paper (given to me by the nursing home) stating that I am NOT financially responsible for her bills. I would bet that the same applies here.
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This is my understanding, if you have POA and your parent is not incapacitated mentally you can help him handle his financial affairs by paying his bills for him as his POA, you are not responsible for his bill. When he becomes deemed mentally or medically incapacitated and documented as so then the enduring power of attorney comes into effect after it is registered with the court, that is how it is in Ireland, I would assume that is a DPOA in USA and probably works the same way. In any event, you pay the bills, etc for him, you represent him in his affairs as if he was doing them himself. You are not responsible for his bills.
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The "Tricky" will go away if you hire a reputable Elder Law Attorney.
Or... you could get this accurate info & proof from your Probate Court directly without cost.
Please don't rely on 'here says ' for this very important information.
Best wishes.
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Now I am confused. I assumed that only his money was used for hospital bills. I will have to consult my lawyer now to see if I am responsible too. He has enough to last a little while, but not for too long. I have just about 0 in my account so I cannot pay his bills. This is getting tricky.
I live in MD.
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She has insurance, it won't fall on you!
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I also have both ,POA and health surrogate. My fathers lawyer told me that I would not be responsible for his bills. I would just be acting for his benefit.
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I was told no, because I signed her name, and I was to use her money. This was what my lawyer told me in MS. I have both, a durable POA and a medical one.
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bookworm - you have just encountered an "Officer Opie" situation (more on this below) and there seems to be a shift in law enforcement on what must happen with outside deaths. Apparently there is no more calling the funeral home for a post death pickup from the home. In most places now, you have to have a release from the coroner's office (and for even more fun most places do not have it such that an MD is required to be the coroner - it is an elected office) and an investigation has to be done as to cause of death. The place of death is viewed as a crime scene.

If they are on hospice, you can just call the funeral home as it is already established they are terminal so the expectation is they will die at home. There are NO crime scene issues.

We had Easter weekend lunch with friends, who gave us their Officer Opie story. Our friend, Jim, has a ranch with on-site caretaker. Over a dz sections type of ranch. Jim has his bedroom at the ranch house but lives in the city - he's the type of guy who leaves stuff about so in his room the bed is left just as if he was just there (messy, bed unmade, toothbrush on sink edge). Jim may go over whenever. The caretaker died in another bathroom - aneurism. An adjoining ranch owner went over and found him because he didn't show up for a scheduled appointment. Well the first officer on the scene, who was Officer Opie, called it a crime scene. House taped off, photos taken, all sorts of "evidence" bagged and just whatever else done that they could use items paid for by Homeland Security grants was done. The police were on the search for the man who left the messy bed.....Then the cause of death could not be determined till the body was shipped to a police department with a full coroner's office because of the whole crime scene stuff. Meanwhile caretakers family unable to bury him and then all sorts of costs with transferring body; house & ranch unable to be used till crime scene issue dealt with. But what was found out was that because of the whole domestic terrorism concerns, many smaller police departments have gotten all this equipment. If your within a certain radius of military bases, ports or other high value targets, then your little police department could get $$ for stuff for crime scenes. (The ranch is within the 300 mile radius of the Pantex plant - which means 4 states). The grant stuff just sits there as most police calls are the usual domestic, stealing, drug dealing, etc. But a dead body, whoo-who, we got us an opportunity to break out the CSI kit and gives the other departments (fire, EMS) and the courts something to do and bill for.
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I would definately sign ANYTHING with the notation of "solely as DPOA" or "acting as agent for Mrs. XXX" or something...and of course read everything. I don't think they are allowed to refuse care because a family member won't sign the paperwork, though obviously the hospital would LIKE it if they could get family members on the hook.
Re credit cards. In CA the creditors can only go after the estate for the debt. They can NOT go after the surviving spouse unless that spouse was named on (or used) the credit card. Had this when my Grandfather died. Fortunately we knew the law, so they weren't able to get any $ from my Grandmother.
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Yes it dose if you have both!
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I'm no expert in this, but anytime you sign something as power of attorney for someone else, I would clearly indicate that. In other words

Jeremy Smith, not personally, but
solely as Power of Attorney for Joanna Smith

It's my understanding that there's a big difference in signing personally and as power of attorney and that distinction is made abundantly clear, it should hopefully alleviate any questions. And also, get copies of everything that you sign and keep them in a file regarding your loved one.

Again, I'm no expert, but have seen these before and hope this helps someone.
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RR, I'm not sure. When I went to sign mom's death certificate, I got to talking to the woman next to me. Her father - against her wishes - was put in hospice service. She claimed that he had 3 more years left in life and did not need hospice yet. Her bro/sis outvoted her - and he had POA. Her father died quickly. When he died, because he was under hospice service, they did not call 911 and take him to the hospital. The funeral home was called in. Whereas, we could not get hospice service due to red tape. Mom died in our home, and we called 911. Because of a death, the fire dept and the police were called. Questions were asked. Then the fire dept man asked if we wanted to call an ambulance to take mom to the hospital morgue. Per older sis, due to mom dying at home NOT under hospice, the coronor questioned her in detail regarding mom's health/her death. Sis was scared stiff.
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I am a bit confused here and am also DPOA. Should my Mother pass away and I call an ambulance to take her to the hospital to make sure she has passed away, and if she has, she no longer has medicare coverage for that hospital visit? Are you supposed to call the ambulance or the funeral home if we think they passed away, and what if they have a faint heartbeat we cant hear, scary stuff, any info appreciated!
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Frantic Girl.... This is an excellent question!!!!
We have these documents such as P.O.A. and we don't know how to use them. We are told to get them, and we do, but I see that most of us do this step... without any instruction or a clear explanation of how, where, why, when.
This question is a subject that is attached to many other questions. Forgive me for being factitious while I make a point.
All of us here posting can obviously read, write, ask questions.... correct???
The reason I made that obvious point is that we all need to sign papers at some point whether it be for yourself or for someone else, a child, a parent etc.
When you had to have your parents sign your report card, you knew that your grades were stated on your performance during a certain period of time, by your teacher. Your teacher wanted to know that Mom and Dad saw it and the signature was proof. You did not hand your parents the report card without knowing the grades your teacher gave you.... right???? You also knew if you went back to school on Monday, without the signatures it was a BIG NONO.
So you had to do the next step regardless of the outcome... praise or punishment. Either way, I bet none of you handed that report card to your parents without reading it first.
Are you getting my point here.....
No matter what you sign, you should read it first. Your P.O.A. papers have the words that describe your duties or actions that you can preform on the behalf of the person who granted you as Attorney in Fact.
A hospital bill may be worded so that you are responsible for all debts, for another party. If you sign a form making yourself responsible you will be.
You may sign as Agent if you have P.O.A. , but make sure of what your signing. Read what you are signing, Read your papers, and if you don't have to sign don't.
At one point my Mother needed to agree to something at a hospital to be moved into a certain section and I was not sure about who would be responsible for the bill or if she had medicare coverage. I was told I needed/had to sign for her and that was a threatening thought/feeling. I have to/need to ?????
RED FLAG!!!!!!
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To Give a Hug--yup, I know all about credit card companies. Just want to make sure everyone else knows too!!!

I've found the best thing to know about credit cards is to stay as far away from them as possible! Not but trouble in the long run if one is not truly careful. Even responsible people get burned when desperate enough to overuse them. Unfortunately, there are a lot more desperate people today due to economy. And yes credit card companies have become much more aggressive trying to reclaim losses.

I had one friend tell me that if a company is giving you grief you might as well cancel your landline & change cell phone #. I had one that could not get electronic billing right--they are the worst and they have gobbled up a lot of others so they are huge.

Luckily, we were able to pay it off & just get rid of it. They were accessing a late fee of $35 onto a bill totally $70. By the time I was able to pay it off & cancel it, I had to pay $135 just because they could not process my payments correctly. That's ridiculous to have to pay an extra $100. My husband says they try to get you to go paperless so they can do just that.

I'm glad to know you know about the laws. I have not have any problems until that one company. But now, I am dumping plastic left & right--b/c they are all owned by that problem company.
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The POA dies when she dies. That is why you need the medical one and the living will one.Your not responable for her debts.If you are the trustee or executor of her estate then you must pay her bills and taxes after she dies from her estate. if she has no money in her estate to pay them the debt goes away.But it never hurts to ask before you sign anything.
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I've handled my mother’s finances for the last 6 yrs financially and in the last 4 yrs. medically. I always sign my name as xxxx POA for xxxx. As her POA, I am not responsible for her bills personally. I do pay her bills as if they were my own to make sure her credit etc. are kept in tack, but if her finances were ever depleted, I would have to move her out of her home to a home care or contact Medicaid and make changes. If you ever become the Guardian of a person, then you are held responsible.

bookworm is right about different states going after one's children to get paid. Check the law for your state and make sure all is okay. leeplus3 is also correct - you should have a 2 separate POA’s one for as Admin for to handle your parent(s) finances.

Anyone that does not have Will & Estate/POA etc. will find themselves dealing with a lot of issues. Make sure you have one for yourself. I've talked to a lot of people who think they have nothing to worry about and then find themselves up against the wall as well as their family members.
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Frantic, If she has medicare and medigap, then they will probably pay. Just be careful that when she is in the hospital that it is not just being observed.
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GASouthern, credit card companies KNOW that the person whose name is on the credit card is the only one liable for their credit card debts. But they also know that if they approach the deceased person's family, most likely they will pay it off - not knowing that they are Not Obligated to pay for their parent's debts. I have heard that they sometimes harrass the loved one's grieving spouse or grown children. One credit card company was so persistent, that Clark Howard of HLN News had to go to the top to finally get it to stop.
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Thanks for response by RuthieMills Give a Hug & others. My mom has been in NH since 2000 & has mental illness. Ran up over $38K in debt on a high interest credit card--I did not know anything about it until bill collector called me. How he got my name, I have no idea since I am not even POA for her, my brother is. I simply told him where she was & that my brother is POA. One must deflect this, unfortunately.

Elders can be easily fleeced. no reputable bank should issue a credit card to a person who works part-time only (for over 5 years prior to her permanent disability) and expect to get paid.

To me, that is just blatant stupidity. They can count it as a loss on the tax return, but I think they should not be able to--they should have been overseeing the acct & realized minimum payments being paid long-term. I think they got what they deserved--nothing.
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Their is a different form for Medical POA and Financial POA as I found out from the nursing home when my dad passed, if you only signed the Medical POA you do not have to pay the Financial part.
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The POA I held for my m-i-l granted me the power to make decisions on her behalf as though she was making them were she able to do so. I could write her checks against her account, but had no personal financial responsibility of my own for paying her debts from my resources. One head's up: the POA her attorney drafter was a durable power of attorney and she intended it to apply to financial and medical decisions that I would make on her behalf, and it read that way. I turns out that although she intended it to cover every decision, there should have been a separate Medical POA document as well as separate end of life directive. Fortunately I was able to make those decisions based on the one POA, but only after showing and explaining the part referring to "any and all decisions" needed on her behalf.
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If they had you signed in several places: here, and here, and here...Then I'm 99% sure you just signed on one of those that you will pay for your mom if she is unable to do so. An aquaintance found out that when she took her brother to the ER, she signed everything WITHOUT reading the fine prints. Someone told her that by signing All of it, that she had agreed to pay for her brother's billing if he can't pay. My SIL took her mom to the ER. Her mom got admitted for several months in the hospital. When her mom died, the hospital went after her for the over $40,000 billing. SIL signed the form in the ER. Fortunately, her mom had life insurance - enough to cover the hospital bill but not the rest of her mortgage.

My mom died recently, on the 19th. Older sis from off-island rode on the ambulance with mom (died in her sleep at home.) As she filled the registered papers, she had asked the lady if she would end up paying for mom's expenses (autopsy, use of ER room, etc...) The lady lowered her voice and said not to sign the last one.

As for myself, because I became the main caregiver for both of my 2 bedridden parents 2yrs ago, I knew that I would be the one taking them to the hospital. I Googled the information. I found that the best option is NOT to sign it. The next option is writing, "so-and-so, as representative of..." then my parent's name. I'm not sure if this will apply since I signed the last dotted line!

Also, last year the HLN news reported that some states have passed a law that the hospital (other medical institutions) can go after the children to pay for their parent's medical bills. So, best to check if your state has passed this law.
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What I understand if you sign your name, you can be held financially responsible. However, as POA, you can sign your mother's name, and again if I understand correctly, you mother would be responsible for the bills. Best check with the laws in your state or an attorney.
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Check on the internet.... for your state laws. REVIEW your legal documents first since you may not have POA for everything. Do NOT let a clerk in a medical facility argue how it must be done! Practice makes perfect! Practice your signature in the correct manner and then if you can't remember make a copy and keep it in your purse so when the time comes, you can sign things in the proper manner--that is so that YOU are not responsible for your mom's bills! Also remember that this is just another part of caregiving as difficult as it may be!!
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I always ask that before I sign, just incase. As a power of attorney I think you're only responsible for paying the money from her estate. You don't have to use your money. But if you transfer her money to your accounts things get muddled and you could get into trouble. Keep things separate and pretend someone is looking over your shoulder, because they might be.
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