Nj.com’s recent article entitled “Who has to pay medical bills when a spouse dies?” says that a creditor may pursue collection against a spouse for an expense incurred by the other spouse for “necessaries.” only where the financial resources of the spouse who incurred the expense are insufficient unless both spouses agreed to pay the debt.
In situations where both spouses incurred the debt or agreed to pay the debt, or one spouse guaranteed the obligation of the other spouse, the creditor may go after either or both spouses.
However, if one spouse incurs a medical expense or other expense deemed necessary — including, in some cases, legal fees or clothing — the creditor must first look to the spouse who incurred the expense.
Only if the spouse’s assets are insufficient to pay may the creditor seek payment from the non-debtor spouse.
It is also essential to know that each spouse holding their assets in separate names doesn’t avoid responsibility for their medical bills if the debtor spouse’s assets are insufficient to pay such bills.
Signing a pre-marital or post-marital agreement, in which each spouse agrees to be responsible for their medical expenses, also doesn’t prevent a creditor from pursuing payment against the non-debtor spouse if the debtor spouse, or the debtor spouse’s probate, cannot pay.
Spouses also may be unable to avoid a creditor seeking reimbursement concerning `necessaries’ merely by separating.
If you have doubts about what debts need to be paid, it is best to seek help from an experienced Probate Attorney. Make sure the debts are legitimate, and you can negotiate payments if the estate does not have enough assets.
Reference: nj.com (Aug. 3, 2022) “Who has to pay medical bills when a spouse dies?”