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I’ve Been Named Agent Under POA – Now What Do I Do? (Part 2)

Last week we were talking about Harry and Wilma.   They designated me as their agent under power of attorney, asking me to take over handling their financial affairs.  They moved into a nursing home and I now had to figure out how to pay for it.

Harry and Wilma were able to tell me that they have approximately $75,000 in 3 bank accounts.  They could only produce one bank statement.    They couldn’t tell me where the other accounts are.  We’ll just have to wait for next month’s statement.

On my next visit to their home, my focus was on records.  At $20,000 a month for nursing care for the two of them, we’ll have to sell their home worth approximately $175,000 to pay for the care but within a year we’ll be out of money.  It’s clear that Medicaid will be necessary.

That’s why I needed to go through their home looking for documents I’ll need to prepare for and file the Medicaid application.   We’ll have to hire a company to clean up the home and dispose of the contents but I want to be sure that none of the papers I may need are lost or discarded so I wanted to do this quickly.

What was I looking for?  Financial account statements for sure.   I need to determine what assets they have that they might not remember because everything of value must be spent down towards their care before we apply for Medicaid.  I also was looking for tax returns which can be a good roadmap to finding other assets.

I found old insurance policies and letters regarding insurance policies.  We need to determine if they are active policies with any value so any information with policy numbers and insurance company contact information is important.    Finally, I was hoping to find identification documents such as Social Security card, marriage certificate, and birth certificates that we’ll need for the Medicaid application.

Next, I went to the bank for which we had a statement, to establish the power of attorney over that account so I can pay Harry and Wilma’s bills, including for their home and care.  Once I did that I then took a look in their safe deposit box.  There I found birth certificates as well as US government bonds worth several thousand dollars.  These will be cashed in to help pay for care.

This is just the start.  Once we’ve gone through everything, we can determine an anticipated Medicaid start date to know how much time we have to get that application together.  I’ll need to order 5 years of statements for each account and review them for any transfers that may be subject to a potential Medicaid penalty.  And of course, we’ll need to put the home on the market very quickly.

In today’s world, being responsible for the financial affairs and well-being of an aging senior in need of care isn’t easy.  Having helped hundreds of families in this same situation, I have a very good idea of what we must accomplish and in what order.  A roadmap or guide to show you how to get from point A to point B is always key.