As power of attorney for my uncle, amI liable for his gifting of money or overspending if he would ever need medicaid help down the road?

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As power of attorney for my uncle, amI liable for his gifting of money or overspending if he would ever need medicaid help down the road?

Last year our aunt died leaving our 86 year old uncle on his own. My brother is POA for him. He is not senile just clueless when it comes to bill paying,shopping etc. Our issue is he has over 150,000 in bank, $120,000 home plus life insurance. He wants to give out monies and buy and spend. My brother’s concern is if he does this and spends alot of his money, then if he ever goes into a nursing home and eventually needs Medicaid help once money is gone, will my brother be held accountable for this? Also what about the over spending of the money since he is POA? Or is it my uncle money and he can do what he wants with it?

Asked on July 11, 2011 under Estate Planning, Ohio

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You are very wise to inquire as to the issues surrounding your brother's obligations as an attorney in fact for your uncle.  Generally speaking, A POA is a document that allows another party to act on your behalf.  The power given can be narrow - or buy a car - or it ban be broad - for all legal purposes. Depending on the laws in your state a Power of Attorney can be of two kinds.  For example, in Virginia a regular power of attorney is good only as long as you can handle your affairs.  A durable power of attorney remains in effect if you should become incapacitated. Having a Power of Attorney in place does not mean that a party can no longer act to handle their affairs.  Quite the contrary. And their actions during the time that they are competant to handle their affairs do not reflect necessarily upon you as a POA.  But I do think that maybe your Uncle needs some guidance here on managing his affairs at this stage,  It may be a good idea to take him to an estate attorney to plan a little better.  This will make it a lot easier for your brother should he need to act.  Good luck.


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