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

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

I did not sign him into any medical facility he was in. He does not have an estate. I am being threatened by a collection agency that they are going to put a hit on my credit report. They are telling me that MO is a right to pursue state but the Attorney General’s office has told me that unless I signed I don’t owe. What is the truth?

Asked on September 14, 2011 under Bankruptcy Law, Missouri

Answers:

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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

In most states one spouse is not typically responsible for the debts of the other. That is unless the specifically agreed to be. However, there exists something in the law known as the "Doctrine of Necessities". In some states, and my research indicates that MO is included, debts incurred for medical treatment are generally considered "necessities". Accordingly, while a deceased spouse's estate is primarily liable for medical bills, if the deceased spouse maintained no separate assets, then the state invokes the doctrine of necessities to determine spousal liablity for such bills. Under the doctrine, a surviving spouse may be held liable for necessary medical services provided to the other spouse if the other spouse maintained no separate assets.

At this point you should consult directly with a probate attorney in your area as to your specific rights/responsibilities.


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