The resident should be the person who signs the nursing facility contract. Another person cannot be required to sign for the resident unless a judge rules that the resident is incompetent and appoints a guardian, or a doctor certifies that the resident is not able to understand the document.
A person legally empowered to act for the resident as a guardian, conservator, or agent in a power of attorney can agree to accept the authority and responsibility for handling the resident’s bills and other financial matters, paying with the resident’s own financial resources. If an agent signs the contract, the signature should include the words “as agent,” specifying that the signer is acting as an agent on behalf of the resident.
Nursing facility contracts often have places for a third person, referred to as a “responsible party,” to sign after the resident and the nursing home representative. Some who sign on that line are later surprised to learn that signing may also signify they are financially responsible for paying costs from their own pockets. Federal and state regulations, however, clearly specify that a facility may not obligate a third party to pay the resident’s bills as a condition for allowing him or her to enter or continue to stay there.