Since I am POA and on my mother’s bank account can I file bankruptcy on her medical bills? 11 Answers as of September 23, 2014

I was made POA over my mother soon after my Stepfather passed in Feb 2011, from ALZ. My Mother started getting symptoms of Dementia...before she got any worse we went to her lawyer and she drew up all the necessary paperwork. POA, new WILL, Living Will, etc. My Mother was in a nursing home for a year and a half. I paid $6,000 a month for almost a year to the nursing home. There were months in between her coming to live with me that I was trying to get her Medicaid eligible. Since Dec 2013 she has lived with me and will be Medicaid eligible Nov 1st to be in a facility with Alz/Dementia people. The nursing home she was in initially, $18,000 is owed for 3 months while I was trying to get her on Medicaid and she didn't have the private pay funds. I am currently u/e, caring for her. I have been making payments to Debt Company of that nursing home for a while now, sometimes $500 at a time/month. (Using Mom's SS check) which isn't much. Since I am POA and on her bank account can I file bankruptcy on her medical bills? Or will I be responsible for that money? I apologize if this isn't the right place to ask this. I googled my question and got this site. Thank you in advance for any help.

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Barnhart Law Office
Barnhart Law Office | Bruce C Barnhart
Your mother may file a bankruptcy. You need to speak in detail to a qualified bankruptcy attorney to discuss her bankruptcy and non-bankruptcy options.
Answer Applies to: Nebraska
Replied: 9/23/2014
The Law Office of Darren Aronow, PC
The Law Office of Darren Aronow, PC | Darren Aronow
Technically I believe you can but it is very difficult since she would not be able to appear in court. And it also depends if your poa gives you the ability to file bankruptcy
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 9/18/2014
Ronald K. Nims LLC | Ronald K. Nims
You can declare bankruptcy on behalf of you mother but not with a POA, you must either be appointed her guardian in a state court action or request that the bankruptcy court appoint you herguardianad litem (english: guardian for lawsuit) Frankly, unless your mother has some assets to protect, I don't see the point of filing bankruptcy. If her only asset is a bank account solely funded by social security benefits, then she isn't subject to garnishment. What does bankruptcy accomplish? Being her POA doesn't make you responsible for her medical bills, UNLESS you signed papers agreeing to guarantee her bills. Even then, her bankruptcy wouldn't affect your liability for her bills. Rule #1 - Don't sign anything you haven't read and UNDERSTOOD.
Answer Applies to: Ohio
Replied: 9/18/2014
Janet A. Lawson Bankruptcy Attorney
Janet A. Lawson Bankruptcy Attorney | Janet Lawson
It depends, most likely you signed to be the responsible party when she was admitted. If you did not agree to be the responsible party, then you could file bankruptcy for her. Look at the paper work from the admission.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 9/17/2014
Eranthe Law Firm
Eranthe Law Firm | Cate Eranthe
Is the POA for legal and financial? What are the terms? It will also depend on the local rules and customs in your area as to what is required. Please go speak with a knowledgeable local bankruptcy attorney for advice specific to your mother and the district you live in.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 9/17/2014
    A Fresh Start
    A Fresh Start | Dorothy G Bunce
    In order to file bankruptcy for someone else, your power of attorney needs to specifically authorize you to file a bankruptcy. If it doesn't say this exactly, in order to file bankruptcy for someone else, you will need a guardianship from the court and authorization from the court granting the guardianship to file the bankruptcy. You are not responsible for your Mother's medical debts. Unless your mother has assets that require the protection of bankruptcy, a bankruptcy may not be necessary. Pay Mom's living expenses first, and if nothing is left over, the outstanding bills will not get paid and the creditors will have to eat the debt.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 9/17/2014
    D.J. Rausa, Attorney at Law | D.J. Rausa
    If you think you are responsible for any bill, then you can file a bankruptcy on that bill. Even with a Power or Attorney, you cannot file a case for your mother, only she can. Unless a legal guardianship is set up.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/17/2014
    Danville Law Group | Scott Jordan
    Are you filing bankruptcy for your mother or for you? Since you have POA for your mother, yes, you can file on behalf of your mother. Whether you will then be personally liable for the bills depends on whether you signed a personal guarantee.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/17/2014
    Law Office of Lynnmarie A. Johnson
    Law Office of Lynnmarie A. Johnson | Lynnmarie Johnson
    Yes, you can file bankruptcy with your POA.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 9/17/2014
    Marc S. Stern
    Marc S. Stern | Marc S. Stern
    That is an impossible question to answer without seeing the documents you signed. Normally a Power of Attorney lets you act for someone and, as an agent for a disclosed principal, you have no individual liability. However, you might have signed something else. Since you had an attorney do all the appropriate paperwork, you should take all this back to him/her and let them look at the documents and, more importantly, instruct you how to sign documents so that you do not incur personal liability. As to whether you can file a bankruptcy for your mother, the law is unclear. Generally courts require a specific provision of the POA but like some many other things, that is district or even judge specific.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 9/17/2014
    Steele, George, Schofield & Ramos, LLP
    Steele, George, Schofield & Ramos, LLP | Alan E. Ramos
    You should contact an attorney to assist you with this situation. It is possible for you to file a bankruptcy for your mother under Federal Rule of Bankuptcy Procedure 1004.1 (Petition for an ... Incompetent Person). The process will vary depending on the jurisdiction that you are in. You should also no that you cannot file "on medical bills". A bankruptcy filing includes all assets and all liabilities, so you should have a professional assist you. This answer was provided as a public service to a question posed on the Law Q & A website. The answer is based on the information provided and is limited to those facts. Furthermore, the answer is based on California law and their application to bankruptcy law in California. Additional information could change the context of the question and materially change the answer.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 9/17/2014
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