Do I Have to Pay My Deceased Spouse's Hospital Bills?

Full Question:

I have been paying on my deceased husband's medical bills for 3 years now. Am I responsible for his bills? I have heard that there is an OLD law on the books that says a wife is NOT responsible for her deceased husbands bills.
06/15/2011   |   Category: Debts and Credit   |   State: Missouri   |   #25031

Answer:

The answer will depend on whether you signed anything agreeing to be a responsible party. A deceased's debts should be paid with the property in their estate (the property left at their death). Spouses generally don't inherit their partner's debts unless they created a co-signor/guarantor/surety/joint account relationship to the debt, so that the spouse's name is on the debt also, and it isn't a separate debt. Spouses will generally only be liable for a separate debt of the deceased if they live in a community property state. However, state laws vary about which marriage partner is responsible for certain debts, depending upon when the debt was incurred, the identity of the debtor, or the purpose of the debt.

Only after the debts are paid will the remaining assets be distributed among the beneficiaries of the will. This means that if the deceased died with little or no money in their accounts and didn't own a home, unsecured debt, such as credit card debt will not be paid to the creditors.