orthodontist bill for 19 year old daughter 3 years old, collection letter came to parents of her name, didn't use our names

by chloe
(newton, ma)

we owe my 19 year old daughter's orthodontist 2,600 in mass. The bill is 3 years old. They never harassed us for it. Insurance paid some of it, as did we. made one payment of $50 in November. Haven't been able to send anything since then. Times are tough. The bill went to collection, and the letter came addressed to parents of: my daughter's name. It doesn't use our names. The original payment book was also in my daughter's name. The orthodontist said technically my daughter is responsible for it. Who is? Also, my daughter is not working, but will be. So, I wrote a letter, told her to sign, and I will enclose $50. We will pay $50 a month until paid. I thought this was better than calling them, and possibly arguing with them. Plus, I don't want to give them any information concerning myself or my husband.

How does this sound? I have dealt with collection agencies in the past, and usually speaking with them on the phone is a mistake. Sending them a payment, with a letter is usually the best way to handle them. I will copy the original letter I send and keep track of the payments.

We don't have any money, and this is the absolute most we can pay. Even $50 a month will be difficult, can we pay $25?

Thanks for any input.

Comments for orthodontist bill for 19 year old daughter 3 years old, collection letter came to parents of her name, didn't use our names

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Apr 24, 2011
Are the parents or their adult daughter responsible for a debt that was incurred when daughter was a minor?
by: Debtcollectionanswers.com

You are legally responsible for your daughter's orthodontist bill, not your daughter because the debt was incurred when she was 16 years old and still a legal minor in MA. The age of legal adulthood in your state is 18. From a legal perspective, the fact that she is now 19 does not change anything; you and your husband incurred the debt, not her. As a result, there is no reason for her to sign any letters related to the debt -- the letters should be signed by you. If your daughter can help you pay off this debt that's great; but she is not legally obligated to pay anything on it.

There is no guarantee that the debt collector will accept the amount you want to pay because you and the collector have not reached an agreement on it. In the opinion of the collector, what you are sending may not be enough and you run the risk of being sued eventually. Therefore, I recommend that you send another letter signed by you, not your daughter, explaining what you would like to pay each month and why you cannot pay more. Ask the debt collector to confirm whether the arrangement you are proposing is acceptable or not. Make a copy of the letter for your files and send it certified mail with a return receipt requested. You may or may not hear back from the collector, but at least you will have a record of the fact that you tried to work out a payment plan in the event you are sued. Meanwhile, begin sending the collector the amount you have offered to pay each month, but do not send your payment by check. An unscrupulous collector may try to use your bank account information to access the money in the account. Send each payment via a bank certified check or by Western Union. By the way, if you do end up talking with the collector, which may be necessary to finalize such a plan, you are not obligated to give him any financial information about yourself and your husband.

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