My spouse passed away unexpectedly last month. Am I liable for his medical expenses?

UPDATED: Mar 26, 2016

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My spouse passed away unexpectedly last month. Am I liable for his medical expenses?

The bills are in his name. I live in Missouri.

Asked on March 26, 2016 under Estate Planning, Missouri


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

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

In many states, one spouse is liable for the necessary expenses of the other spouse; medical expenses are deemd to be such expenses. That having been said, other states do not follow this view and therefore one spouse is not liable for the other spoue's debt unless they agreed in writing to be so liable, the debt was a joint debt or, in some cases, they live in a community property state. That having been said, my research suggests that in MO, a wife may be liable for her spouse's medical debts. That having been said, in the case where the debtor spouse is deceased, their estate would first be looked to for payment. To the extent that the estate could not extinguish all amounts owed, only then could the husband's creditors be allowed to come to the wife to seek payment. Since, this area of law is changing, you should consult directly with a local attorney in your area; they can best advise you further.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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