Even in a community property state such as Texas, it is incredibly rare for children or parents of a deceased person to inherit medical debts. However, the law is less clear when it comes to the spouse of a deceased individual who passes away with medical debt. Here’s a look at what happens to medical debt after someone dies in Texas.
The Estate Is Responsible For Paying the Debt
The estate of the deceased person is responsible for paying the medical debt. The estate is simply the umbrella term for all of the decedent’s assets. As such, the executor of the estate is responsible for seeing to it that medical debts are paid after filing for probate. If the debts are not paid by the executor, the creditor may make a claim against the estate within four months. Keep in mind that life insurance policies and qualified retirement accounts that name a direct beneficiary are not subject to probate.
What is Probate?
Probate is a process that legally recognizes a person’s death, and oversees the distribution of assets and paying debts. The court will facilitate probate, and protect the beneficiaries and creditors of the estate. Individuals who are named in a will as the executor will be responsible for filing for probate.
Creditors need to be notified of the death and be given the opportunity to file claims including those for medical debts, against the estate. In Texas, a death notice published in a paper may suffice as notification. Probate may take up to six months for a simple estate, or more than a year in a complex estate.
The Spouse of the Deceased May Be Responsible for Paying Medical Debt
Texas is a community property state. This means that medical debts incurred by a person who has a solvent estate may be passed onto the surviving spouse. In cases where there are not enough assets in an estate to pay off bills (known as an insolvent estate), this debt can often be discharged if the surviving spouse has no way of paying the debt.
Children Will Not Inherit Medical Debt
Children do not inherit their parent’s medical debt in Texas. The debt can impact inheritances, though, as all medical bills may need to be paid through the estate.
Defending Medical Debt Lawsuits in Texas
If you’re sued for medical debt in Texas, it’s smart to contact an attorney who focuses their practice on medical debt defense. Medical debt can be inflated due to billing errors, failure of insurance to cover certain types of care, and other errors. When you hire a medical debt defense attorney, all calls and letters attempting to collect on the medical debt will stop. Most creditors are willing to work with spouses who have inherited medical debt after the loss of their partner. A skilled attorney can work to negotiate the best repayment terms for you so that you never have to go through the court system
Get Help With Medical Debt Defense in Texas
If you’re in medical debt in Texas, it is smart to try to work out a payment plan with providers. However, you should always make sure you’re only paying what is actually owed, not care that should have been covered, or care that wasn’t received. An experienced medical debt defense attorney will help you to understand your responsibility, and work to settle your debt without the need for trial. Contact Debt Legal Defense today by calling 210-468-1008. You may also request an appointment online.