Based on our experience, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, hospitals, and all types of health care and long-term care facilities and providers will frequently request you to sign your name as the “Responsible Person” for and in place of your elderly parent on all types of contracts for your parent’s care. This is wrong. As a son or daughter, you are not legally responsible for these bills of your parent unless you willingly sign to undertake this responsibility. You are not required to do so. If you do sign as the “Responsible Person” you will become personally liable (placing in jeopardy your own assets) for all of your parent’s bills to this provider (which can become enormous!).
These bills are and should be your parent’s responsibility, and should be paid by your parent’s assets or insurance, or may be payable by public benefits, in the event your parent has no assets or insurance of his or her own. Your parent should sign the admission and other health care agreements herself or himself. If your parent is unable to sign or in danger of becoming incompetent, you should see a qualified attorney in advance, and ideally have your elderly parent give you a Durable General Power of Attorney. Then, when you are asked to sign your elderly parent’s admission agreements, you can and should simply sign your parent’s name (in the blank for patient or resident), followed immediately underneath by the words “By [sign your name], Attorney In Fact.” But, do not sign your name in the separate blank provided for “Responsible Person.”