What happens to someone’s hospital bills once they pass away?

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What happens to someone’s hospital bills once they pass away?

I live in IL (in case state makes a difference). My father recently passed away. He had no medical insurance. I was wondering what happens to his medical bills? We don’t have much money; we can’t even afford rent at the moment and there is over $100,000 in bills from hospitals and other specialists. I was wondering if all these bills get pinned onto my mother? If not, what happens to them? Is there any way to not have to pay them?

Asked on July 12, 2011 under Bankruptcy Law, Illinois

Answers:

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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

In IL there is a law, known as the "Family Expense Act" that covers this issue. Whether your mother is liable under the Act depends on whether or not the what your father bought or the cost he incurred was a “family expense” . If it was, your mother is liable; if it's not, she's not. In other words spouses become jointly liable for some debts. Unfortunately while the law doesn't spell out exactly what expenses are covered, the courts have held that family expenses include medical bills.

At this point your mother needs to consult directly with an attorney in her about all of this. They can mioe fully advise her of her rights/remedies under specific state law.


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