What to do about a dying spouse’s debts?

My mother has been the provider in their 27 year marriage. My mother tried divorcing him but he demanded a large sum up front as well as a huge amount of monthly alimony so she dropped the divorce. It has been many years and my father, due to cancer, has racked up huge hospital bills. He is telling people he is going to make them send half the bills to my mother. He has also been going to hospitals not covered by his insurance and it seems like it’s a new surgery weekly due to problems caused from radiation. He is a horse farmer and has shown a loss each year. There is no way he can pay these bills. I realize she is reliable for bills when he dies but what rights does she have and can she get a life insurance plan on him? He is 66 years old.

Asked on September 22, 2012 under Family Law, Missouri


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Under the laws of all states in this country debts incurred during the marriage of parties are deemed marital debts where the assets of the marriage are responsible for paying them.

In the event of your father's passing, his estate would be responsible first for paying his debts.

Your mother can place a medical insurance plan for your father. However, given his prior health issues and the need for him to first get a medical examination may make getting a policy for him difficult.

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