If I make medical decisions for family can I be held accountable for medical expenses?

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If I make medical decisions for family can I be held accountable for medical expenses?

My mother is dying and I am being asked to come and take her off of life support. I am a full time student with no disposable income and my mother was living in a tent with only Social Security as income. If I sign papers for the hospital or make medical decisions can I be held accountable for her bills? The same question goes for my younger brother who is in poor health. He wants me to be is Power of Attorney. If I legally become his POA can I be held responsible for his expenses?

Asked on July 9, 2016 under Estate Planning, South Carolina

Answers:

B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

You will be held liable if you co-sign or sign as a guarantor for any medical bill. 
If the medical provider asks you to sign a document that says you agree to accept financial responsibility, then you need to decline or only sign in a limited capacity.  What I mean by this is if you are appointed as a power of attorney, make sure that you add a notation after your signature that reads "acting as power of attorney for____."  This will make it clear that you are not signing in a personal capacity, but rather in your capacity as a power of attorney, executor, or whatever other capacity that you assume.


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