Do I have to pay medical bills incurred by my late husband?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Do I have to pay medical bills incurred by my late husband?

We live in NY but my husband went into rehab in WA. While there he had a seizure and was taken to the hospital. After a month he was kicked out of rehab and came back home. He needed more time of in-patient treatment and soon after of being home he relapsed, overdosed and couldn’t make it. Now

I’m getting the medical bill for this emergency. Should I pay it? I never signed any paper but I don’t know what the law is for this.

Asked on January 8, 2017 under Family Law, New York


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

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

You are not personally liable for the medical bills of your deceased husband. There are, however, 3 exceptions. The first is if you live in a community property state, then you may still bear responsibility for medical bills. The second exception falls under something called the "doctrine of necessaries", under which a spouse is liable for the necessary medical expenses incurred by the other spouse. The last exception would be if you signed or in some other way agreed to be bound for re-payments.  However, under NY law the first 2 exceptions do not apply. Therefore, unless you agreed to be responsible for this debt, then you not obligated to re-pay it. However, this does not mean the your late creditors have no recourse. They can sue his estate for payment.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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