Is a surviving spouse responsible for their decesed spouse’s medical expenses?

I did not sign anything regarding responsibility of medical expenses when my wife went into the hospital for labor and child birth. She died as a result of complications of the birth and now I have a collection agency threatening me for the balance due.

Asked on July 9, 2012 under Bankruptcy Law, Missouri

Answers:

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

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

I am so sorry for your loss.  It depends on the state in which you live under what is known as the "Doctrine of Necessities."  Generally speaking the estate of the spouse is responsible for the bills.  But if the estate does not have enough in it and the state adheres to the doctrine, the surviving spouse could be responsible.  Your state does indeed have this doctrine as law.  I would consult with an attorney as soon as you can.  Good luck.


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