In missouri, husband worked, died of cancer, wife did not sign any medical paperwork... Is wife liablke to repay medical debt?

by Michelle
(Missouri)

My best freidn recently lost her husband to cancer. He worked his entire life, up tp the last monthsbefore he passed away. He was approved for Medicaid and Dissability Social Security, but did not live long enoughto receive any benefits. His cancer treatment incurred debt after the insurance was exhausted. He made sure to be the person signing all medical paperwork: diagnosis sign in, treatment, etc...

My friend did not sign any of the medical paperwork, she is unable to work or drive due to her own medical issue but she does not qualify for Medicare or Medicaid or supplemental living assistance to help cover rent (they do not own a home), truck payment or general utilities. They do not have credit card debt, but do have a truck loan.

Can she be held liable for her husband's medical debts? She and her two adult children survised him and one child lives at home with her, helping pay bills with his income (not much).

Also, they went to an attorney to ensure all of their personal property would be willed to her upon his death. Does his mother or brothers have any legal right to take her husband's personal property from her without her conent, legally? They are after his musical equipment and her wedding band and wedding ring.

Thank you.
Michelle

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Dec 20, 2011
In missouri, husband worked, died of cancer, wife did not sign any medical paperwork... Is wife liablke to repay medical debt?
by: Debtcollectionanswers.com

Sounds like your friend has had a difficult time and that her problems are not over. She is lucky that she has a friend like you.

Your friend is not legally obligated to pay her husband's unpaid medical bills for a couple reasons. First, she did not sign any of the medical treatment paperwork. Second, Missouri is a separate property state, which means that the debts incurred by one spouse are owed by that spouse only and the other spouse has no legal obligation to pay them (unless the debts are joint debts -- debts that both spouses signed for). This is different than how it works in community property states where both spouses are legally obligated for one another's debts. Also, none of your friend's children are legally obligated to pay their father's unpaid debts.

This does not mean that your friend and/or his children may not be contacted by debt collectors who want them to pay the debts. That does happen sometimes. It would be a good idea therefore for them to read the information here, deceased person’s debt FAQ.

Now to your second question regarding whether the mother and brother of your friend's husband are entitled to any of his personal property. If her husband's will indicated that he wanted his musical equipment to go to them, they they are entitled to it; but if his will says that he left everything to your friend, then the musical equipment is hers to keep, or she may want to give it to her husband's relatives -- but that is her decision to make. And, her wedding ring and band belong to your friend -- her husband purchased them for her -- and so his relatives are not legally entitled to those items either.


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