If I inherit money in the next year, can the debt collectors legally go after that inheritance for medical bills that are 5 years old?

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If I inherit money in the next year, can the debt collectors legally go after that inheritance for medical bills that are 5 years old?

Approximately 5 years ago, I had a medical problem with no health insurance. I wound up with a $100,000 medical bill after a couple days in the hospital and no way to pay it. From what I understand the statute of limitations in my state is 4 years. If I inherit money in the next year, can the debt collectors legally go after that inheritance? Can they take my inheritance legally?

Asked on January 31, 2015 under Bankruptcy Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

You are correct in that the statute of limitations (SOL) for breach of a written contract/agreement or a book account is four years. That is four years from the date of the breach, which is not the same thing as the date of you medical problem--i.e. it would be four years from when you were supposed to pay, but failed to do so. Depending on exactly when that was, there may still be time--probably not much, but some--for them to file a suit. However, once four years pass from when you breached the agreement to pay, the SOL should bar a suit.

Not that if you were already sued and they have a judgment against you, they can collect on it for at least 10 years--that is, the minimum SOL on a judgment is 10 years from when the plaintiff (party suing) gets the judgment, and there are ways to extend that period.


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