After mother's death, am I still responsible for nursing home bills?

1 answer | Last updated: Sep 15, 2016
Spineline asked...

I was my mother's POA for all 7 years prior to her death in July 2010. I have accidentally been paying a small amount still owed to the nursing home for several years now because it was automatically set up with my bank account. Am I still responsible for paying these nursing home bills even though she passed away over 2 years ago? She had zero assets and her bills were always paid by either medicare, medicaid, and her monthly social security income. I would like to stop paying these bills, please help?!?

Expert Answers

Barbara Repa, a senior editor, is an attorney, a journalist specializing in aging issues, and the author of Your Rights in the Workplace (Nolo), now in its 10th edition.

Being named the agent in your mother's POA does not make you legally responsible for her debts.

You may only be legally responsible for paying your mother's nursing home costs if you signed on as a "responsible party" when she was admitted as a resident.

Despite that legal reality, may facilities will happily accept payments over the years"”particularly those easily and quietly handed over through automatic payments.

Contact the facility's executive director at once to find out the reality of these historical finances. He or she should also be able to supply you with a complete accounting of what's paid and what's due and owing and who is ultimately responsible. If you've paid in when the legal obligation wasn't owing, you should be able to get a refund of past payments.

If you are not able to get a satisfactory answer or response from facility administrators, contact the state licensing agency. You will likely find representatives there are anxious to crack down on financial wrongdoing, particularly if you are able to supply supporting documentation.