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My father just had heart surgery, he isn’t doing well.
He doesn’t have medical insurance and my concern is that the hospital could take his property.
If I become his power of attorney will I be responsible for his debts?
Not sure what to do in order to protect his property but I also want to protect myself.
I live in CA and my father lives in Texas. Not sure what the law is in Texas.
Asked on February 8, 2017 under Estate Planning, California
SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney
Answered 4 years ago | Contributor
An attorney-in-fact or agent (those are the terms for the person given authority by a power of attorney) is NOT liable for the costs or debts of his or her principal (the person making the POA) unless he or she otherwise agrees to assume or guaranty them. So as long as you make sure to not sign anything that does obligate you to pay for him, you will personally be fine.
As to his property: there's really nothing you can do now. At this point, if he can't pay for his medical bills, the hospital could sue him (or if he passes, his estate) and could likely get his home or other assets; or if Medicaid pays for his medical costs, Medicaid could get them. You can't move, hide, transfer, etc. assets when you *know* there is a debt coming; such transfers can be set aside as fraudulent of the creditors. "Estate planning" to protect assets from medical costs or other large debts must be done years in advance, before the debts are incurred.