Legal Question in Credit and Debt Law in North Carolina

Myhusband died in hospital leaving bill of $14000.00 after only a few hours. In the state of NC am I,as his widow responsible for his bill?

Asked on 5/01/13, 10:35 am

3 Answers from Attorneys

Kenneth Love Ken Love Law

Unfortunately, in most cases yes. In NC, we have the doctrine of necessities, which says spouses are responsible for the "necessary" debts of their spouse...this applies most with medical debts.

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Answered on 5/01/13, 10:39 am

Lynn Coleman Attorney-Mediator

I agree with Attorney Love. The only way to avoid this is if you were separated from him and you informed the hospital at the time of admission that you were separated. You can also argue about the reasonable value of the services, and argue against liability for any interest or late fees they try to add because all you are responsible for is the medical services.

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Answered on 5/01/13, 12:22 pm

Yes you are ultimately. Since your husband is deceased, an estate needs probated for him. The hospital has to file a claim against your husband's estate. Medical bills incurred within the last 12 months of death are a priority claim after the spousal allowance and some other expenses. If there are enough probate assets in the estate for your husband then his estate pays the bills.

If there are insufficient assets in the probate estate or if no estate is probated, then you are going to be responsible under the doctrine of necessaries as noted by Attorneys Love and Coleman. The only exception to this doctrine is where parties are separated and where the hospital knew of the separation.

Its an anachronism of the law unfortunately but spouses are liable for the other spouses medical debts if the spouse who incurred the debt does not pay.

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Answered on 5/01/13, 12:43 pm

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