Can dad's nursing home legally sue me if I am his power of attorney?

A fellow caregiver asked...

I recently added my father to my checking account so that I could help him pay his bills. Recently he was hospitalized for one month and the hospital recommended that he go to a nursing home for a short period of time for further therapy. The hospital transferred my dad to a nursing home. My dad has medicare and private insurance. Upon admission to the nursing home, his remaining medicare eligibility days were calculated and the nursing home social worker acknowledge that he would be released to return home before the medicare days expired. When I asked for my father to be sent home 10 days prior to his medicare coverage ran out, I was told that he could not be release until the caregiver I hired for him and other family members who would be helping out, had to be trained on various aspects of his care. Because of this delay by the nursing home staff, my father had to spend 20 extra days in the nursing facility. We were originally told by the nursing social worker that it was there over site and that their would not be any charges for private pay. They are now suing me for the additional days my dad was kept there. I signed my dad's paper work because I was his medical P.O.A....I signed my dads name and then stated "by ME" (my name). The nursing home claims that because I have my dad on my checking account I am considered in "on control of his finances". I had no P.O.A. that covered finances etc. I only had a medical P.O.A......Can I be held liable for my dad's debt? Shouldn't they be suing my dad? Technically, they shouldn't be suing anyone, but they are? what can I do to release myself from this liability...thanks you

Expert Answer

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.

Unless you signed your own name as "Responsible Payor" or some other such designation when your father entered the nursing home, you are not financially responsible for his bills.

But whatever your situation, it sounds as if the nursing home staff is acting wrongfully. And if the social worker with whom you spoke is employed by the nursing home, it should have to make good on that person's promises.

If you haven't done so already, request a private meeting with the nursing home owner or administrator"”and be prepared to briefly and clearly explain the situation and to produce copies of all related paperwork.

If that is the very person who is giving you the runaround, or your complaint falls on deaf ears, consider getting in touch with the ombudsman assigned to the nursing home. He or she should be able to give free advice and direction in this matter. Contact information for the ombudsman should be posted in the nursing home. Or consult the national organization to find that out, at: