Deceased husband's debt and medical expenses

by Joanne
(Fulton, NY)

My husband suddenly died of a heart attack. He died before reaching a treatment room as he had to fill out paperwork first. The hospital is sending bills in his name. Am I responsible for paying that bill? I am also receiving a bill from an insurance company regarding car insurance he had on his truck which was registered in his name only. Am I responsible for that bill?

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Jun 28, 2012
Deceased husband's debt and medical expenses

So sorry about the death of your husband. It must have been especially difficult given that it was so sudden.

Did you husband leave a will behind? If he did, then the will should include the name of the person he wanted to serve as executor of his estate during the probate process. That person is responsible for filing the will with the probate court in your area, inventorying all of your husband's assets and then paying as many of your husband's debts as possible out of those assets. Once the executor does that, then the remaining assets can be distributed to your husband's beneficiaries as spelled out in his will.

If your husband did not have a will, then you or someone else needs to go to the probate court and ask that it appoint an administrator for his estate. That person will do what an executor would do.

After the executor or administrator's work is done, if there are any debts still outstanding that were owed by your husband, you do not owe them unless they are joint debts -- debts that you and your husband both signed for. For example, you may have had a credit card together or the loan on your home may be in both of your names. Also, if you signed any paperwork at the hospital agreeing to be responsible for your husband's medical bills, then you would be obligated to pay them as well once insurance, Medicare or Medicaid paid its share. As for the insurance on your husband's car, the policy should be cancelled now that your husband is deceased. However, that may mean that you need to purchase your own insurance if the policy covered you as well as him.

If you have any questions, you should set up an appointment with a probate attorney in your area. I also recommend that you read our deceased person’s debt FAQ.

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