Bankruptcy question. Can a relative in the US be held responsible for debt incurred in this country by a non-US relative?

Asked about 1 year ago - Seattle, WA

My elderly mom purchased emergency health ins to visit us in WA state. She became ill and was hospitalized. The ins co is saying they may not pay her 7-day hospital stay because she failed to disclose a known medical condition (congenital heart defect). If they void the policy, she will be faced with a mountain of medical bills which she cannot pay because she has no money. Is it possible I might be held financially responsible for her medical bills since I'm a US citizen and live here, and she was visiting me? Hoping not, as it would bankrupt me. We would probably have her file for bankruptcy in Canada since she's poor and has no assets, and is 79 yrs old. I would appreciate knowing, in the meantime, if there's any chance I might be on the hook for the bills? Thank you.

Attorney answers (5)

  1. Susanne Ruiz Rodriguez

    Contributor Level 13

    3

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Unless you signed the financial responsibility documents, you will not be liable for her debts. Hope this helps.

    The answers to these questions may be different depending on your individual circumstance and should not be... more
  2. Samuel Michael Meyler

    Contributor Level 13

    2

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . You shouldn't be held liable unless you signed documents agreeing to be financially responsible.

    Legal disclaimer: The answer provided: A) is for informational purposes only, B) is not intended to constitute... more
  3. Saphronia R Young

    Contributor Level 13

    1

    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . I agree that you are not responsible for another adult's bills unless you signed a contract guaranteeing payment of the obligation. I also think it would be worthwhile for your Mom to consult with an experienced elder law attorney concerning the failure of the insurance company to honor the policy...unless you are convinced that your Mom knowingly and intentionally failed to disclose her condition, AND it was this condition that led to her illness. I don't do that kind of law, but you can contact the bar association of the county in which the debt was incurred (I assume King, as it appears you are in Seattle). Also, you can go to: http://www.wsba.org and at the top left menu, select "lawyer directory." In the drop down menu, look for elder law attorneys who are actively practicing. When you click on the highlighted information, that attorney's data and contact info comes up. You can look for other practice areas they also do that would indicate they could help (I would look for insurance law). Many have their email addresses published, but all have address and phone. Good luck.

    Without knowing all of the details, reviewing documents, and interviewing witnesses, no person should assume that... more
  4. Thuong-Tri Nguyen

    Contributor Level 20

    1

    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . Unless your mother lives in Canada, why would you "have her file for bankruptcy in Canada"?

    If she is a Canadian citizen or lawful resident, you may want to check whether the health insurance she has in Canada would cover her medical care even though the care was given in the US.

    If "she's poor and has no assets, and is 79 yrs old", there may not be any need to file for bankruptcy as most creditors do not go through the trouble of suing someone who has no ability to pay.

    Many hospitals in the US have charity care programs. You can check whether the places where your mother received medical care have programs for which she is eligible.

    You should review the specific facts with your attorney to find out the legal options.

  5. Tim L Eblen

    Contributor Level 13

    Answered . I agree with others, and will only ad that you could also have an obligation if you were involved in sponsoring your mother to come to the united states. If she is from Canada, then I am sure that is not the case.

    best of luck,
    Tim L. Eblen
    www.eblenfreed.com

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