My mom died intestate no will 4 months ago. She has over 192,000 in medical bills. I want to keep the house. What options do I have?

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My mom died intestate no will 4 months ago. She has over 192,000 in medical bills. I want to keep the house. What options do I have?

My mom died of Leukemia in August 2018. She has roughly 192,000 in medical bills, most of which have been turned over to collections agencies. There is still another 58,000 owed on the mortgage, but I want to keep the house. I’ve been paying the mortgage since she passed away. Oddly, her Medicare plan didn’t go into effect until 2 months AFTER she died. Would Medicare still pay a large sum of that money if I were to file a claim or something? I understand that as her child, I’m not liable for her debts after death. However, her estate is. With this debt, her estate could possibly become insolvent as the house is currently worth 131,000. But as I mentioned, I want to keep the house. I haven’t even gone through probate court yet. She has an estimated total of 105,000 in combined Life Insurance Thrift Savings Plan money. If I were to agree to claim responsibility for paying off her debts over time, would I be able to keep the house?

Asked on January 8, 2019 under Estate Planning, North Carolina

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

1) Medicare will not retroactively pay bills.
2) You are correct that you are not personally liable for the debts, but that her estate is; her creditors can take the $105k in savings, etc. and then after that, since that still leaves $87k not paid for, put a lien and the house and/or try to force it to be sold to pay bills (if it is sold, the mortgage is paid first; then the other creditors; then the heirs/beneficiaries--i.e. you--would get anything left over).
3) You have no right to pay over time and keep the house. You could try to negotiate this with the various creditors, including the mortgage lender, but it is voluntary on the part of the creditors to work with you this way.


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