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Effect of Signing Power of Attorney

Question: If I sign as power of attorney for my mother, am I responsible for her financial obligations? Can her creditors come after my assets to pay her obligations?

Answer: Signing a power of attorney does not personally obligate you to pay the debts of the principal (the person on whose behalf you are acting). You also have no such obligation as a child.

However, it is important that you make it clear when signing documents or entering into contracts on behalf of the principal that you are acting solely as agent and not on your own account. For example, you should sign a contract or other document “X.Y., as power of attorney for A.B., and not individually.” This is because in order to avoid personal liability an agent must both disclose that he is acting as an agent and identify the principal. On the other hand, the agent of a disclosed principal incurs no personal liability on contracts signed for the principal.

A word of caution: we have seen certain types of creditors, such as nursing homes, attempt to impose liability on family members and persons who sign as power of attorney. These attempts are generally illegal and violate a number of state and federal laws. If you are the victim of such an attempt, please contact us.

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