Am I responsible for my deceased husband’s medical bills?

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Am I responsible for my deceased husband’s medical bills?

Asked on July 10, 2015 under Estate Planning, Ohio

Answers:

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

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

In many states a surviving spouse is not responsible for paying any of their deceased spouse's debt. In other states, they are fully responsible. And in still others, they are not responsible for any of their deceased spouse's debt, except for medical bills. OH falls into this latter category. Therefore, you can be held responsible for your husband's medical debts due to something known as the "Doctrine of Necessities". This doctrine says that a surviving spouse is responsible for their deceased spouse's debts that were incurred during the marriage if those debts were essential to providing for the health and well being of the family. Medical debt would qualify. 

However, debt owed by your husband at the time of his death should be paid out of any assets he may have owned whether or not his estate went through the probate process. If he did not own any assets, then his unpaid medica creditors can look to you for the money.


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