Can my mother be held personally responsible for my deceased father’s medical bills?

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Can my mother be held personally responsible for my deceased father’s medical bills?

My father passed away leaving everything to mom in his Will. The house and bank account are jointly held with survivorship provisions. The only asset solely in his name is a 20 year old truck. All other assets appear to be household (i.e. marital property). Dad spent his final 3 weeks in the hospital, so I we assume there’s going to be a hefty bill even after insurance pays their portion. Since the estate has no assets to speak of, can the hospital go after my mom for payment of the debts?

Asked on June 19, 2018 under Estate Planning, Ohio

Answers:

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

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

My research suggests that in OH, a surviving spouse may be held responsible for the medical debts of their deceased spouse. Under state law, if debts incurred during marriage were essential to providing for the health and well being of the family (and medical debt would be one such debt), then the surviving spouse can be held laible for it. Bottom line, since your father did not own any assets, then his unpaid medical providers can look to your mother for the money. At this point, she should consult directly with a local attorney who specializes in collection matters; they can best advice her further further. 


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