Q: What does "Responsible Party" mean legally on an assisted living application? Are an elder's children's assets at risk?
Our Wisconsin resident Mom's husband just died and we children are about to place her in assisted living.
She has assets to pay for her care for three years or so and can partial pay (a small pension and social security and veteran's benefits) after that. But if she lives long enough, Medicaid might be required.
If one of her children signs as the "Responsible Party" on an assisted living application, can the assisted living provider come after that child's assets? We are all near retirement age ourselves and must save for our own retirement. Thank you.
A: The meaning of the term "Responsible Party" should be defined by the terms of the contract the Assisted Living Facility is asking you to sign. If it is not defined in the contract, I recommend asking them for the definition before signing and I would be very cautious about signing this agreement. Check out this blog post for reference https://www.jacobowitz.com/resources/senior-resources/are-you-the-responsible-party/ This term has a special meaning when it comes to filling out and submitting the Medicaid application on behalf of an individual. I agree with you that you want to make sure you are not pledging any of your own personal assets to pay for your mother's care if the assisted living facility is asking you to sign this contract. I think it would likely be better for you to sign the contract as Agent for your mother under a Durable Financial Power of Attorney, if this is indeed where she wants to live. If you sign as Agent, I would sign or print your Mother’s name and then print "Your Name as Agent for “Insert Mother’s Name Here" to make clear you are not signing in your personal capacity but only as Agent for your Mother. If your Mother should need to apply for Medicaid it becomes very important who has the authority to submit a Medicaid application on her behalf, and generally it is only the Medicaid applicant themselves or an Agent under a Durable Financial Power of Attorney. For this reason, if she doesn't have a Durable Financial Power of Attorney in place, I recommend working with a qualified estate planning and elder law attorney to put one in place now if your Mother has the capacity to execute such a document. In addition, I recommend reviewing the contract mentioned above with a qualified attorney before proceeding.
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