Widow Getting Husbands Doctor Bills

Updated on February 06, 2013
C.C. asks from Knoxville, TN
4 answers

I live in Knoxville, TN. I was married for over 20 years. He died 6 months ago. He left No Will. He did not think he was gonna die at 50. Our home's deed is in both our names BUT the loan is in his name. His doctor bills keep coming to me even after I keep sending the bills back stamped "Deceased: Return to Sender". (can they take me to court over $700? Can they put a lien on our home?)
When he filled out the forms at the doctors office he put that he was the 'responsible' party (there is no way he put me, I am a housewife/work at home) but when he found out how sick he was he refused to pay them because he knew he was dying! He was so sick, so very, very, very sick I only wanted to care of him, not nag him about dr. bills, That was the last thing on my mind.......Then he died...now here I am stuck with his bills. His name is all over the doctor bills, not mine.

What can I do next?

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answers from Washington DC on

I'm so very sorry for your loss -- of course your whole focus was on caring for your husband; that's totally understandable. It is dreadful to have to deal with business issues after a death in the family; I know from experience. I'm really sorry.

But now, please get some legal advice about the estate laws in your state. You may indeed be liable for at least some of his debts. Yes, some businesses will indeed sue over $700. You may need to get a financial plan so you can pay these bills off over time.

Please, please do not let your grief blind you to the point that you end up in a year's time with serious financial problems because you didn't get good advice as soon as possible. If you cannot afford a lawyer, go to your bank and make an appointment with a financial adviser there who has experience in handling estates. Do it today. The bank should be able to help you with the monetary side. And did your husband have health insurance? What if anything does the insurer do about bills for customers who have died? Call them and find out now.

You need solid legal and financial advice NOW, not advice from us here on Mamapedia. You may indeed not be responsible but you need to know for certain.

And yes, as his spouse you will have to file his taxes for him, covering the period since he last filed. He has an "estate" whether you know it or not, even if that estate is one bank account in his name.

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answers from Nashville on

I found myself in the same situation last April. My husband died and I keep getting his bills. The credit card companies just accepted the death certificate and stopped sending bills and calling. The medical bills have been a bigger problem. Just ignore them, they can't hold you responsible for his bills unless you signed something saying you would pay for it. The only bill I signed for was the hospice and they waived their fees after I supplied them with my financial paperwork. You can check with a lawyer.

The house will be a bigger problem. Ours was in the foreclosure process because he had not paid the mortgage in 6 months before he died. My situation was the same, name on deed, but not on the loan. I ended up losing the house because I didn't have enough money to bring the loan current so I could assume it and couldn't get financing to purchase the house from Freddie Mac. If you want to keep the house, you must keep the payments current and get your name on the loan as soon as possible. Believe me the banks and mortgage companies have no sympathy towards widows or anyone else.

I am so sorry for your loss. It is a very difficult time. Made even more difficult by unfeeling companies that don't give you time to grieve before harassing you for money. Also beware of people who will try to scam you out of money. I've had bill collectors threaten me with lawsuits in attempts to get me to pay bills that I am not responsible for and others that offer to help - for a fee. Please be careful and take care of yourself.

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answers from Chattanooga on

I'm so sorry for your loss, it's never easy to lose someone you love.

As far as his financial situation goes, the advice you've received to speak with either a lawyer or accountant is good. What you'll likely find (although laws vary from state to state) is that, while YOU are not liable for any debts you didn't sign for, your husband's estate is. As others have noted, his "estate" is anything he owned: the house, any bank account with his name (even if it's a joint account), a car, etc.
The doctor bills are debts that were legitimately owed by him, so his estate is legally (as well as morally) responsible to pay them. As long as you continue to pay the house payments, there should be no worry of foreclosure. However, if you let those payments lapse, the mortgage company certainly has a right to (and will) foreclose.

My best advice is to get someone to help you with this. It is undoubtedly a stressful situation, and it would be nice to have someone close to you who will help sift through the paperwork. Again, so sorry for your loss, and I wish you the best.



answers from San Francisco on

You were married. I believe you are responsible for the debts. Talk to an attorney in your state; that's the only way to know for sure. And yes, they could put a lien against the home after they get a judgment.

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