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Avoiding responsibility when acting under a power of attorney

nevada residents may be interested in an article discussing some of the potential pitfalls when acting under a durable power of attorney for an older relative. Care must be taken when signing documents in order to avoid incurring any financial responsibility.

When a family member helps a parent or other elder relative enter a nursing home facility or manage their finances, they are often doing so under a power of attorney. This family member frequently signs their own name in lieu of their relative, who may be incapacitated or otherwise unable to sign. However, many of these nursing home agreements will make the person signing the guarantor of any fees owed. This means that, even though they may not realize it, the family member may be agreeing to be personally responsible for unpaid fees, which can be over $10,000 a month for many facilities.

Attorneys recommend that family members protect themselves from being the responsible party on these agreements. Many mistake the term "responsible party" to mean only that they will be the emergency contact in case something goes wrong. One way that a family member can avoid becoming responsible is to read the fine print of the agreement and be sure of that they know what it says. Additionally, they can sign the name of their relative who is entering the facility as the responsible party on the agreement. They should then note that they are doing so under the power of attorney as attorney in fact.

Acting under a power of attorney may be difficult for many, as it often requires significant decisions to be made. An attorney may be able to help by examining the documents that must be signed and advising the family member on avoiding responsibility for those debts.

Source: Market Watch, "How a parent’s health-care bills could hurt you", Elizabeth O'Brien, July 10, 2014

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