Am I responsible for my deceased husband’s medical bills?

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Am I responsible for my deceased husband’s medical bills?

I am only a contact person. There is no estate.

Asked on July 18, 2011 under Bankruptcy Law, Wyoming

Answers:

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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

As a general rule a surviving spouse is not responsible for their deceased spouse's medical bills.  However there are exceptions that would impose liability on the surviving spouse. First, would be if the non-debtor spouse signed an agreement that legally obligated them for re-payment, such as signing for their spouse's hospital stay (you did not indicate this to be the case).  Second, if the spouses lived in a community property state (WY is not such a state).  Additionally many states impose liability based on the legal theory of the "Doctrine of Necessaries".  According to this doctrine, the non-debtor spouse is responsible for repayment of all necessary expenses relating to the maintenance of the household, and medical bills are deemed to be such an expense. However many states have abolished this doctrine. My research suggests that WY is one of those states.  However you should still consult directly with an attorney in your area to confirm your legal rights/responsibilities.


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