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Information and Advice about Hospital Bills

If a son is 19 and he dies do i have to pay the hospital bill?

If a son is 19 and he dies do i have to pay the hospital bill?

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Bill's Answer
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Whether or not a parent would be responsible for the hospital bills incurred by his/her 19 year old son would depend on whether or not the parent signed an agreement with the hospital to be financially responsible for the treatment provided to the son. A 19 year old is a legal adult, and is generally responsible for all debts he incurs; his parent would not be responsible unless he/she specifically agreed to pay the debt prior to the time that the debt was incurred. The young man’s death itself does not make his parent liable for the medical bills. A similar question often arises when a parent passes away, and the surviving children wonder whether or not they are responsible for paying debts that their late parent had not paid prior to his death. The answer is, in almost all cases, no. If the decedent left any assets behind, those assets would generally be liquidated to pay any outstanding debts before being passed on to heirs; however, the heirs do not become personally liable for the debts of the deceased person.

Many creditors do attempt to collect the debts of deceased individuals by calling their close relatives and asking for payment. Collectors are allowed to ask for voluntary payment, but generally cannot imply that the relative is legally responsible for the debt or threaten any action which the creditor cannot legally take. Unfortunately, some collectors use unscrupulous tactics when trying to collect these debts such as trying to make relatives think that they are legally liable, or saying things such as “wouldn’t you want to honor you father’s memory by paying his debts.” Such collection tactics are unconscionable, and consumers should report any collection agency making these types of statements to their state Attorney General’s office, the Better Business Bureau, and the Federal Trade Commission. You can read more about how to deal with this type of collector by visiting this link.

As I mentioned, a parent would not normally be responsible for the hospital bills incurred by a 19 year old son, unless the parent had signed an agreement with the hospital to be agreeing to pay for the treatment costs. If the hospital claims that such an agreement was signed, I would encourage the parent to demand a copy of the agreement and to consult with an attorney before making any payment. I wish you the best of luck, and hope that the information I have provided helps you Find. Learn. Save.

Best,

Bill

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