As Medical Power of Attorney can I sign Nursing Home and Hospice payment forms?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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As Medical Power of Attorney can I sign Nursing Home and Hospice payment forms?

My brother lives in Pennsylvania and has dementia and Parkinson’s to the extent
that he is being moved into hospice care at a nursing home. I am his medical
power of attorney. The hospice group sent me a couple of forms to complete that
include agreements to pay including selection of payers. Can I sign those
forms without becoming personally liable for the payments?

My brother is eligible for Medicare and Medicaid and the nursing home is trying
to pursue those payments now but my brother has no financial power of attorney at
this time. He does have a third party payee who has been managing paying Joe’s
bills but they won’t talk to me or the nursing home folks because my brother
never signed anything saying they could. At this point, my brother isn’t really
capable of informed consent so I’m not sure how that will work out.

Asked on December 2, 2017 under Estate Planning, Florida


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

A medical power of attorney is the power to make medical decisions--not financial ones. The medial POA does not give you power over your brother's finances, so you cannot use it to obligate him to pay. Therefore, you cannot sign for payment or financial responsibility on his behalf with only a medical POA; if you sign anything regarding payment, you will be doing so in your own capacity and would be making yourself liable or resonsible for the payment.
What you likely need to do is to have your brother declared incompetent by a court if he has dementia and can no longer make informed decisions, and have yourself appointed as his legal guardian. Then you will have the legal power to make all decisions, including financial ones, for him, and so could sign the paperwork as his guardian, not in your personal capacity, and so not obligate yourself. If you wish to explore this option, consult with an elder law attorney.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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