Ask The Expert: Is a spouse responsible for medical bills, now that the sick spouse has passed on?

posted by: Ben A. Neiburger Elder Law Attorney

Under the laws of many states, a surviving spouse is responsible to pay for any "family expenses" of the couple or any expenses for the deceased spouse that the surviving spouse agreed to in writing or that the surviving spouse ordered for the deceased spouse.

There is case law that says that a spouse's hospital and medical expenses are a family expense.  However, different rules may apply if there was a separation at the time the deceased spouse incurred the medical bills. Therefore, under most circumstances, the surviving spouse is responsible for medical bills of the deceased spouse.  You should, however, check with an attorney in your state to determine whether this applies to you since the laws are a bit different in each state.

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9/16/2012 2:34:40 AM

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Posted by:Anna Wisdom

7/31/2012 8:32:47 AM

IS the surviving spouse responsible for the medical bills of a deceased spouse

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Posted by:Lefty

10/13/2011 5:45:11 PM

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Posted by:John

9/29/2011 5:24:32 AM

In Virginia is the spouse responsible for the deceased spouses medical debt??

Posted by:Johnnett

7/8/2010 7:30:41 AM

i would not trust this site. in the state of michigan the spouse is not liable for the deceases medical bills. it is state law. also credit cards that are not in the spouses name means no pay. companies can try to collect, sending them to collection agencies but stand your ground!

Posted by:Larry

4/29/2010 8:50:42 AM

My wife has diagonosed as terminally ill. I am your caregiver. Since then, she has been pushing me out of her life and replacing me with her grown children (from a previous marriage). We have always have separate financial accounts. She refuses to assist in the monthly bills. She has given one of her children (from the previous marriage, a healthcare and a general power of attorney. She tried to get to convince me to replace her with our son on our deed( to keep me from selling it after her death). She, also, removed me as a beneficiery from her life insurance. By state law, I am responsible for her medical bills after she passes. Should her grown children share in the responsiblity of her debts?

Posted by:Anna Maloney

10/17/2009 12:25:25 PM

Can a trust be set up by the power of antorney to the estate? (moms daughter) Does medicaid rules of time/giving of gifts apply to this?

Posted by:Danielle

8/14/2009 4:18:55 PM

In the state of Oklahoma is the surviving spouse responsible for the deceased's medical bills?

Posted by:Gerard Gaudio

7/24/2009 5:44:50 PM

I've been seperated for 10 years. In 2007 my wife had a heart attack. She was under her work insurance not mine. I signed nothing . They are coming after both of use for the money. Can they do that.

Posted by:phillip

7/18/2009 8:19:01 PM

Is the surviving spouse responsible for the deceased medical bills in arkansas?

Posted by:Tina

5/28/2009 11:29:11 AM

In the state of NJ, NY, PA, OH, MA, CT, LA, IL, NC, SC and DC is the surviving spouse responsible for the deceased medical bills?

Posted by:Tina

5/28/2009 11:27:33 AM

Is the surviving spouse responsible for the deceased medical bills

Posted by:d burress

2/23/2009 1:01:00 PM

In Indiana is the spouse responsible for the deceased spouses medical debt??

Posted by:Mia

7/30/2008 5:42:01 AM

My mother died over a year ago. Her money was in a revocable trust account. I have paid all her medical bills from that account. However, it is now over one year and I am still getting some small bills. How long am I obligated to pay these bills before distributing the trust money to my siblings. I live in Florida and so did my mother.

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