Can a non-national living outside the US be pursued for a deceased spouse’s medical bills?

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Can a non-national living outside the US be pursued for a deceased spouse’s medical bills?

The deceased accrued significant medical bills in the US before his death, which were only partially covered by insurance, although neither he nor his spouse are from the US. Creditors continue to address bills to the deceased but the spouse is concerned about possible legal action against her in the US which could entail persistent communications and possible limitations on her future travel to the US. The deceased left no will and left negative liquid assets so the spouse is on a fixed income in no position to pay the bills. Is there a way to verify this to creditors in the US?

Asked on January 18, 2012 under Bankruptcy Law, Massachusetts

Answers:

FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Under the laws of all states in this country, the spouse of a deceased person can possibly be liable to creditors of the deceased if the estate does not have enough assets to cover the bills.

The issue is so long as no lawsuit has been filed, the statute of limitations for the creditors to file is running where potentially the creditors can be time barred if a lawsuit is not filed within the time frame of the theory of recovery (cause of action).

As to the surviving spouse who is living outside the United States, it is entirely possible that creditors can pursue him or her for the unpaid bills. The problem for the creditors is locating the surviving spouse.

I suggest that the surviving spouse retain an attorney to write a letter to the creditors stating that there are no assets of the deceased person to pay the outstanding bills. If there are children of the deceased, it is best to have the letter written on behalf of the surviving children so that the creditors do not know there is a surviving spouse that could be looked at for payment.

 


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