Am I responsible for any of my late aunt’s medical expenses?

My aunt lived for the last 7 years of her life in a rehab facility on Medicare. Everything was paid for, including many hospital trips up to and including her death. I’d wouldn’t mind paying for a small funeral, but I do not want to assume any of her debt. Am I in anyway responsible? And is there a way to collect the body (or ashes) without obligating myself?

Asked on November 7, 2011 under Estate Planning, California


M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

I am so sorry for your loss and for the situation.  generally speaking, the debts of your Aunt are the obligation of her estate, not of any one individual person.  So no, you are not responsible individually for her debts.  If you pay for the funeral then you should be able to obtain her ashes and the funeral parloror company that does the funeral is the primary creditor of her estate - in other words they get paid first.   Is there a Will?  Are you named as the executor?  It is possible that the estate is "insolvent" and you should consult with an attorney or accountant about what the best thing to do is here.  Some one needs to see all the numbers laid out in front of them: assets and debts.  Good luck. 

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