My mother recently lost her husband of 35 years. The day before he passed his daughter got him to sign a power of attorney for his funeral arrangements. The daughter took over, had a funeral that my mother could not afford, and now wants my mother to pay for it. Who is legally responsible for these bills?
By Mel from Fort Wayne, IN
If your mother had no knowledge that her husband signed a power of attorney the day before his death, your mother is not responsible for the expensive funeral. I'm not an attorney, but any judge will tell you that. The daughter has to pay for the whole bill. It was very nasty of that woman to do that. (11/15/2009)
If she made the arrangements and she asked for the services then she gets the bill. Did she ask you if the arrangements or the services were acceptable? If she did and you said yes then you are responsible.
In a financial power of attorney, common agent responsibilities include dealing with accounts, paying certain bills on behalf of grantor and taking care of tax issues.
And for future reference for others I found this little tidbit of info. "A power of attorney ends upon your death. Thereafter your will, or the law of intestacy, governs the handling of your estate. A power of attorney document is not a substitute for a will."
And this link might help. Someone asked a similar question before. thriftyfun.com (11/15/2009)
I will never ever understand such venomous and selfish acts people do in situations such as this.
I agree with MCW that a judge is most likely going to throw this case out if it goes to court. Have your ammunition ready though to help present your mother's case. Like MCW, I also am wondering if your mother was aware of it "at the time of signing"? If so, what was her state of mind and emotions? Was she the decision maker in the home or was your step-dad (I ask this because your mom might be the sort of woman who has no clue about financial and legal obligations and didn't understand what your step sister was up to)?
Make sure you have items such as copies of medical records of what medications he was on, what (I am assuming) disease did he have? He most likely was so medicated that he wasn't even in his right mind. Get a copy of the power of attorney. Was it simply signed only by him? Were there witnesses? Was it notarized? Have a list of the doctors and nurses who were caring for him on the day he passed away and preceding days and how to contact them in case you need them as witnesses of his mental and physical state.
One other thing that will help would be to find out what your mom and stepdad had discussed between them about how much was expected to be paid for a funeral. In all fairness and good ethics, your mom should be willing to pay the portion of what it would have cost if she had been the one in control (perhaps you and other family members could help with some of the expenses if she's unable to come up with the entire amount). If the case does go to court her doing this gives an even better chance of showing that your mom is not trying to get off the hook for her fair share. Not paying a fair share would be taking advantage and make her look like as big of a low life as your step sister.
And last, but definitely not least, I am sorry for you and your mom's loss and that she has to go through such a nasty ordeal during her time of mourning. (11/15/2009)
Get a lawyer, good luck. (11/15/2009)
I'm very sorry for your family's loss. Did the daughter meet with the funeral director, make all the arrangements, and sign all the applicable documents? If she signed the contracts she should be on the hook for the bills. Funeral homes want someone to take responsibility for payment so someone would have been asked to sign. If she forged your mother's name you have a very different problem. Have you asked the funeral director who they are holding responsible? If he is expecting the daughter to pay based on her agreement by signing the contracts? Then your mother will not be asked to pay. I hope you get this resolved so your mother with be able to grieve properly without this hanging over her head. (11/15/2009)
By Dixie's Mom
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