Unfortunately, unexpected events may affect one’s health and result in hefty medical expenses. If a married individual is a victim of an accident or severe illness, a main concern for the surviving spouse is whether he or she has to pay the owed amount.
Is a spouse responsible for medical bills after death in Florida? Read on to find out.
Is Spouse Responsible for Medical Bills After Death in Florida? – The Fundamentals
Determining whether a surviving spouse is responsible for medical bills after a spouse’s death in Florida is a complex task. In most cases, the decedent’s estate is responsible for paying unsettled debts associated with medical treatments and end-of-life care.
Florida Statutes §733.707 (1) provide that “the personal representative shall pay the expenses of the administration and obligations of the decedent’s estate in the following order:
- Class 1—Costs, expenses of administration, and compensation of personal representatives and their attorneys’ fees and attorneys’ fees awarded under s. 733.106(3)
- Class 2—Reasonable funeral, interment, and grave marker expenses, whether paid by a guardian, the personal representative, or any other person, not to exceed the aggregate of $6,000
- Class 3—Debts and taxes with preference under federal law, claims pursuant to ss. 409.9101 and 414.28, and claims in favor of the state for unpaid court costs, fees, or fines
- Class 4—Reasonable and necessary medical and hospital expenses of the last 60 days of the last illness of the decedent, including compensation of persons attending the decedent
- Class 5—Family allowance
- Class 6—Arrearage from court-ordered child support
- Class 7—Debts acquired after death by the continuation of the decedent’s business, in accordance with s. 733.612(22), but only to the extent of the assets of that business
- Class 8—All other claims, including those founded on judgments or decrees rendered against the decedent during the decedent’s lifetime, and any excess over the sums allowed in paragraphs (b) and (d)”
If the spouse’s estates are combined, the surviving spouse may still be affected by the medical bills of a deceased spouse.
Married couples often own joint banking accounts or joint credit cards. In such cases, medical bills paid with a joint credit card become the responsibility of the surviving spouse. For example, a credit card company can hold both spouses jointly liable for debts associated with medical expenses.
Is Spouse Responsible for Medical Bills After Death in Florida? – Divorce vs. Marital Debts
When a couple decides to divorce in Florida, medical debts accrued during the marriage can be considered marital debt. Upon one of the spouse’s death, the surviving spouse may be liable for medical expenses incurred during the marriage.
For example, a medical bill may be in the name of only one of the spouses. During the division of assets and liabilities, the court may consider this debt as marital debt and change the distribution of the decedent’s estate.
Many spouses believe that simply refusing to sign any papers is sufficient to avoid the responsibility to pay the other spouse’s medical bills. While it may be true in most cases, a spouse may be affected indirectly without signing into a debt.