Use Caution When Signing Nursing Home Agreements

In the case of Andover Village Retirement Community v. Cole, Mr. Cole admitted his mother to a nursing home. Mr. Cole, who was his mother’s agent under her financial power of attorney, signed one agreement as a “Responsible Person” that stated in the agreement that he was not personally liable for his mother’s unpaid medical expenses. Then, Mr. Cole signed an additional agreement with the nursing home stating that he was assuming financial responsibility for his mother.

After Mr. Cole’s mother died, the nursing home sued him for unpaid expenses. The Court found that each agreement must be treated separately and as Mr. Cole signed one agreement assuming financial responsibility for his mother’s unpaid expenses as the “Responsible Person,” he was liable to the nursing home.

Mr. Cole made a critical mistake that cost him big. As discussed in a previous blog post, a nursing home cannot require a third party to guarantee payment as a condition of admission. If the third party has legal access to the resident’s funds, as an agent under a financial power of attorney for instance, the nursing home can require that the third party sign the agreement. However, the agent must indicate in writing that he is signing as an agent to avoid personal liability for the cost of care. For other tips on nursing home agreements, see, or contact a Cleveland Medicaid Elder Law Lawyer.

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