Does Being an Agent under a Power of Attorney Mean You’re Taking on Financial Responsibility?

 In Durable Powers of Attorney, Long-Term Care Planning

Question:

As POA, do I become responsible for paying for assisted living for my mom if she is turned down for Medicaid? If she is approved and gets Medicaid but it doesn’t cover the full cost of the monthly rent even if the facility accepts Medicaid, then what? Will they send her somewhere else?

Answer:

As an agent under a power of attorney you are responsible for spending your mother’s money for her care, but not for contributing your own. However, some children of seniors receiving care fall into a trap by agreeing to be a guarantor of their parents care. That makes them financially responsible. Another potential trap is to become the “responsible” party. This should only mean that you agree to provide whatever information the facility needs for the Medicaid application and to be the contact for the family, but read the fine print. Some facilities have been known to argue that this means that you’re acting as guarantor. Finally, whenever you sign documents on your mother’s behalf, make sure that you make it clear that you’re doing so in your role as attorney-in-fact for your mother, not on your own behalf.

Turning to your Medicaid question, if the facility is not being paid in full it probably has the right to evict your mother. On the other hand, your state may have rules that require that they move your mother to another appropriate facility. Whether than can find one that will take her if she’s not paying full freight may be a challenge for them. Or they may be able to move her one that accepts Medicaid as full payment but which as a result is not as nice.

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