Does a durable financial power of attorney for my mother...

3 answers | Last updated: Nov 21, 2016
Juliemae asked...

Does a durable financial power of attorney for my mother make me in any way legally responsible for her bills?


Expert Answers

Liza Hanks is the founder and owner of FamilyWorks Estate Planning, a law firm with offices in Campbell and Los Altos, California, and the author of The Busy Family's Guide to Estate Planning (Nolo, 2007).

No, it does not. An agent is not responsible for the debts of the person for whom he or she is acting.


Community Answers

Allison pritts answered...

I have durable power of attorney for my mother who was diagnosed with Alzheimer's 7 years ago. While I don't feel I am personally liable for her debts, I am responsible to pay her bills through her account which I am cosigner and maintain her finances. Though I am durable power of attorney, all financial decisions are discussed with my siblings. My question to you would be: Are you taking care of your mother's finances and paying her bills through her account, or is she incurring debts. Is she still able to handle her own financial affairs or are you now overseeing that. In my mind, there is a difference between maintaining bills...doctor, hospital, mortgage, utilities, etc. and other debt...credit card etc. I feel the attorney above was thinking strictly your personal liability to her debt and do you owe it out of your pocket. Is the payment coming from her funds or yours would be the question.


Granny2grandsons answered...

Hi Allison,

Sounds like you have things in order! As long as your Mom is living, if you are a joint holder, yes you are responsible for paying the debt on that account. However, if it is any medical bills, debit or credit cards - even if you are an "authorized user" - you are not responsible for the debt! Did you sign that you would be responsible for the medical bills? If not - don't pay!

You sound like you have gotten some good advice and doing a great job. Hang in there! I'm sure your exhausted - it can really be emotionally draining!

Mortgages and utilities are a different situation. Nothing will change as long as she is living. My heart goes out to you for what you are going through and having to do, let alone having to do your own bills! Who has the property or is the "right to surviorship"?

My friend's husband recently passed, just last week we were able to call and they already knew he had passed (funeral homes release the Social Security #'s) and credit card companies had closed his accounts along with informing his wife that she was not responsible for the debt since he was the only one on the account. What a relief it was to my friend! Especially since Social Security has put things on "hold" until they can get it started again now that he has passed. She is so worried about how long it will take!

Sending hugs and prayers!!