A community of peers created by the Soaring Spirits Loss Foundation
So I'm sure many of you have been where I am now and I don't know the site that well so maybe I should have searched for other threads first. But I came home to a follow up letter from a lawyer telling me I owe $10,000+ in outstanding medical bills (from just one hospital) despite my last legally guided response letter stating that there is no estate. I lost my husband about 9 months ago after his 13 year battle with cancer. I missed the first 10 years of his fight. I'm 35 years old and live paycheck to paycheck and thought that I somehow escaped the debt collecting run around. Some of the alleged charges date back several years before my husband had to file bankruptcy from all of the mounting medical debt. Some are when I know for a fact he was under my insurance which I thought had everything covered. Just thinking about going back to those thick files and jumping into this fight is exhausting. There are people close to me in my life that I can't even bring this up to because I assured them that I would be financially okay and that following my heart would not result in financial ruin. Like there isn't enough to deal with already. I'm sorry - I'm just frustrated and mad and scared and alone. This could be the first of many.
Jen, that is awful. I know a little of what you're talking about, but nothing like that. Could you perhaps contact a non-profit consumer advocate of some sort? Maybe start with http://www.nfcc.org/ which is the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. They could likely point you towards a legitimate counseling group in your state. The services are confidential, so you wouldn't have to talk to your family/friends about it unless you wanted to. Let a professional look the files so you don't have to. If the debts are older than 7 yrs you I don't think you need to pay them and if there's no estate than there should be nothing to collect on. You definitely need some professional advice.
Good luck and we're here if you need us.
I'm sure it's overwhelming. I've had to convert our Chapter 13 to a 7 but it's still an up in the air mess. Medical bills are still coming in. Is there anyone in your family or friends that you could confide in that might have some sort of experience or background either in legal or finance that could point you in the right direction? I don't think medical bills are top priority. Housing, utilities, food, gas, etc. need to stay current before anything else. Don't make any decisions till you know all your options. Good luck:(
hi Jen...I feel for you...it's really awful having reassured everyone you would be ok financially only to find that might not be the case at all. About a month after my 2nd husband took his own life in March this year I found out he had cleared out all our savings, filled our credit cards and owed more for his business...bowled me over i can tell you. Not from medical debt but from gambling. Thankfully I have a wonderful lawyer who has assured me that his business debts are not my responsibility as $20K is out of my capacity. But the feelings of being frustrated, mad, scared and alone...yeh..I get that totally. Starting fresh at 52 with no money is not something I thought I would ever have to face, yet here I am...taking some time away from the workforce while i sort out my life...helping the kids cope with the loss of their Step dad after losing their dad nearly 12 years ago...
The only suggestion I can make is take a deep breath and talk...I'm on email at email@example.com anytime if you would like to talk. Thinking of you, Chez
I'm sorry you're having to deal with this, Jen, and I understand the feelings you're experiencing. Unfortunately, there are a lot of companies and lawyers out there who think widows are an easy target to collect money. This letter could be one of those instead of actually coming from the hospital in question. It might be worth a call to the hospital to check to see if this billing is from them. I'm not in Texas, but here in Nevada they tend to turn everything over to a collection agency - not an attorney - if they are seeking payments.
in PA i was not responsible for anything in his name only... and pension plans, life insurance and anything in both names does not count as an estate so i did not have to pay the credit card balance even tho they tried really hard to get me to i sent a copy of the deaath certificate then talked to them one more time and told them not to contact me again they have not and i checked both our credit reports and they are still good
I'm sorry you are going through this, I know in Florida, I'm not responsible for debt that was only in my husband's name but I understand that all states are different. I hope you are able to get some legal assistance. Hugs!
Unless both of your names were on the account you are not legally responsible for the debt. It is so sad the way some of these lawyers and collection agencies target widows. After my husband passed I didn't not pay any of his bills. I sent a letter saying there was no estate and a copy of the death certificate. I kept one generic letter and sent it in with the payment coupon that they sent. If you don't challenge them they begin to think that you don't know your rights and they prey on you and your emotional state. Don't pay them anything. The only debt you will be responsible for is if you all had things in both of your names such as your mortgage, car loans and credit cards. And for the credit cards if you weren't a co-owner but just an authorized user you aren't responsible for the debt. Also in some cases if both of your names were on a mortgage or major loan check to see if you have insurance. Some insurances pay off the debt in the instance of death. I hope this information is helpful. I know this is hard to do during this time so do it when you are up to it. You aren't responsible for the debt so whenever you get around to it you can tell them you aren't paying it.
It really depends on your state. Some states the debt is dissolved at time of death. Infact most are but not in all states.Need to google your states rules to get right answer
Jen4garza: I hope this information is helpful for you. This is the federal law concerning the collection of debt for a deceased relative.
As you can see unless you live in one of the community property states you do not have to pay the hospital bills as there is no estate. If you do live in a community property state you can try to negotiate a settlement with them. The website below lists the community property states and the debt rules they follow.
www.irs.gov/irm/part25/irm_25-018-001.html go to 126.96.36.199.2 (03-04-2011) Community Property Law
In many counties in Texas, when an estate is being probated the court will post in the newspapers in the area that the estate is being settled and if anyone has a claim against it they have a certain amount of time to produce that claim or they lose their right to it.
I am going through this all the time since my husband died in 2010, mostly with one stupid hospital. Everyone else has either been willing to work with me or forgiven his debt. In one case, someone anonymously paid a $6,000.00 outstanding bill at Medical City of Dallas, and Pitney Bowes forgave a $5000.00 debt his law firm owed them. But our local hospital suddenly set a collection agency after me two weeks ago for a $425.00 debt from ten months before he died, which I didn't even remember.
I told them about the court notice, and their answer was, well, since they didn't see the notice, it didn't count. I said, no, it doesn't work that way, and told them they were going after a widow who was left in reduced circumstances, and they could fight me all they wanted, but the law was on my side, and they were going to lose.
They said I should send them a copy of the court papers and the death certificate, and they would see if maybe they could work something out with me.
I told them sure. Of course, I didn't. If I hear from them again. I will tell them, "Okay, I figured out what the problem is. If you call this number, we can get it all worked out to everyone's satisfaction: 555-555-5555.
Then she will ask, "and who would that be?" I will say, "My attorney." and I will hang up.
It has worked before. Collection agencies NEVER want to talk to your attorney, especially when they know they are wrong.