My husband was durable power of attorney for his grandmother, who passed away this August. At the time of her passing, she had a share of cost back-balance due to the facility for prior time period Medi-Cal did not specify her share of cost amount, pending completion of her paperwork (on their end). He is now being pursued and threatened by the long term care facility where she resided for the last year. They state that he is is legally liable for her debt, because he signed her share of cost payment checks. They are stating he will be sued and reported to the State for prosecution, if the debt is not paid by him, personally. (They are not allowing time for conclusion of her final affairs either. The first demand for payment was less than two weeks after her passing.)
The facility states that because he signed the checks that paid her Medi-Cal share of cost each month, he is therefore considered her “agent” per the CA Welfare and Institutions Code (section 14110.8: (3) “Agent” means a person who manages, uses, or controls those funds or assets of the resident that legally are required to be used to pay the resident’s share of cost and other charges not paid for by the Medi-Cal program) and is therefore fully responsible to personally pay her back-bill due to the facility. They are siting section (f) of the same code (section 14110.8 (f): A resident and his or her agent shall pay to the facility the share of cost, for which he or she is responsible under the Medi-Cal program, unless otherwise exempted by law.) –However, the durable power of attorney forms that they have on record (signed and completed by his grandmother), clearly state: “All persons or entities who in good faith endeavor to carry out the provisions of this Power of Attorney shall not be liable to me, my estate, or my heirs, for any damages or claims arising because of their actions or inactions based on this Power of Attorney. My estate shall indemnify and hold them harmless.”
–Is he liable then, for her share of cost back balance amount? He did sign the checks that paid her share of cost (his name was also on that bank account), and therefore he was acting as an ‘agent’, per the code’s definition; but the same code, subsection (4) also relieves a power of attorney from financial obligation (a “responsible party”), except when acting as an “agent” -which seems to contradict itself. Regardless though, shouldn’t the “exempted by law” clause in the code 14110.8 apply here, due to the indemnification paragraph in his power of attorney?
Thank you for your time.
Sorry to hear about you loss. Who is this crooked and evil outfit? They are dead wrong. He is not liable for her bills unless he personally guaranteed payment. He is not liable as an agent under a durable power of attorney which is void now that she has passed. Oh by the way it is illegal to threaten criminal prosecution when trying to collect a debt both under state and federal Fair Debt Collection Practices laws. They ought to be ashamed of themselves for lying to you and trying to extort money out of you. What these crooks need to do is file a claim against her estate, but don’t tell them out so they have to figure it out from themselves. If they are too stupid and fail to file a timely claim then they are out of luck.
You ought to go find a debtor lawyer or if you cannot afford one got eh the local legal aid or local bar association sponsored legal aid program and get some help.
This is really outrageous and I hope you can find an attorney to help you and sue them for their unethical and illegal conduct.
Melvin C. Belli
The Belli Law Firm
35 Miller Ave Suite 199
Mill Valley, CA 94941