If a husband abandons a wife

My husband left me 5 years ago. Jumped on a plane and left. we never
divorced. he has recently passed away. Will his hospital bills be passed to
me?

Asked on May 5, 2017 under Family Law, Tennessee

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

In TN, persons are legally obligated for payment of the medical bills of their spouse, regardless of whether the spouse is deceased or not. The courts have held that wives and husbands are equally responsible for the medical bills of the other due to what is known as the "Doctrine of Necessities". This doctrine was established at common law and pursuant to it, one spouse is liable for the "necessary" expenses incurred by the other spouse during marriage. This holds true for any debt but particularly for medical bills which are deemed to almost always be “necessary”. That having been said, in some states, if you and your spouse were separated, then you're not liable for their debts. However, even in these states, you may have had to have filed for a legal separation (as oppossed to merely living apart). At this point, you should consult directly with a local attorney who can best advise you further after hearing all of the details of your situation.


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