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Can I Be Held Responsible for My Father's Nursing Home Bills?

Attorney Thomas B. Burton answers a reader question about whether the reader will be responsible for the Father's medical and nursing home bills when the reader is listed as a co-owner on the Father's checking account.

Transcript of Video: Can I Be Held Responsible for My Father’s Nursing Home Bills?

Today's question has to do with

multiple issues involving estate planning

and I believe also touching on Medicaid planning

bear with me while I read the question in full

because it has many parts

can I be held responsible for my father's medical bills and

nursing home bills in the state of Wisconsin that's

the big question

then the reader writes my father recently entered

a nursing home

I have power of attorney so he is saying he's

saying he's the agent under the power of attorney I believe

and I am also listed as a co-owner on his checking account

I've been paying his bills since he entered the nursing home

from this checking account

this includes bills for his home which he owns

we wrote a Will ourselves and filled out paperwork

naming me as his power of attorney and notarized both

documents we also filed

a transfer of deed for the house listing

the reader's name and my sister's I'm wondering if

there's any way I will be held responsible if any debts

that exceed the value of his estate

especially if I need to sign for him

if he is admitted for medical care and unable to sign for himself

so listeners as you can see there is a lot of issues going on here

sounds like they created a Will themselves

filled it out they also did a deed

transferring the father's house from the father to

his children and then the father

was admitted to the nursing home

so I don't know all the facts

of this situation

but I attempted to answer the question

as much as I can this gets into complicated

areas of Medicaid planning

but in short to the reader if your father validly named you

as agent under his power of attorney

you can pay his bills for him under that POA document

it also sounds like you are named on the checking account

so he gave you authority to pay his bills

your question about being a co-owner of the checking account

and transferring the home to you and your sisters

gets into what I am

guessing is a question about divestment of assets

now for Medicaid there's a 5 year lookback

rule for gifts made to anyone

transfer for less than fair market value

it sounds like putting your name on

the checking account and then transferring the deed to the house

to you and your sisters was a gift that's what Medicaid

would look at as a divestment

Medicaid is the program that will pay for long term care

nursing home care for people who are

impoverished and don't have enough money to pay for it themselves

so your father can

gift the home to you and the checking account assets

as long as he has enough other money to pay for his nursing

home care for at least five years

if he does not then you should be aware of this

5-year lookback period by Medicaid

if your father goes into the nursing home and needs State of Wisconsin assistance

through the Medicaid program then

they will look back at these transfers

made to you and your sisters and it's possible

they would deny your father Medicaid assistance

for making these divestments

now the other thing I wanted to briefly

mention is that you said you had the Will notarized

a Will always needs two witnesses

so make sure it was witnessed by two people

who are not related by blood or marriage

and the Notary in addition to that is fine

but a Notary alone is not enough

the power of attorney can be signed in front of a Notary

I recommend you check all these documents

and discuss this situation holistically with

a Medicaid and estate planning attorney

there are many issues going on here and it's more complex

than I can answer in this brief video

but those are the things I would look at

and in general keep in mind that 5 year Medicaid divestment

lookback period

great question and thank you for asking.

© 2019 Law Office of Thomas B. Burton. All Rights Reserved.

Transcript and captions provided for ease of access for the hearing impaired.

For questions about this topic, or to suggest a topic for a future blog post, please contact my office.

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