In Indiana, are adult children responsible for unpaid medical bills if a parent dies?

Asked about 5 years ago - Indiana

My mother has many health issues. She has very little money and no insurance or will. If she were to die, would her adult children be responsible for paying her unpaid medical bills?

Attorney answers (2)

  1. Timothy Edward Kalamaros

    Contributor Level 15

    Answered . Generally an individual is the only one responsible for his or her own medical bills, in the absence of an enforceable agreement to pay the debts of another. There is an exception for payment of necessaries, which can allow for a health care provider to successfully collect from parents for children's medical debts, or, for them to collect from a spouse for another spouse's medical debts. However, the "doctrine of necessaries" does not extend to children paying for parents' medical bills.

    Nevertheless, a creditor may open an estate for a decedent who owes them money, and try to collect against their estate owned assets. It is rare but sometimes happens. Likewise, if a child is in the role of court appointed fiduciary for a deceased parent, say, though an Estate proceeding or trust, then, the child has a possible role as fiduciary to pay the parent's bill out of their assets subject to the facts and law.

    If a bill collector misrepresents that children owe any legal duty to pay for their parents medical bills, that might, given the specific facts or context, itself be a violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

    This is only practical advice. You should hire your own lawyer and talk to them personally about all the relevant details in order to have legal advice upon which you can wisely rely.

  2. Timothy Edward Kalamaros

    Contributor Level 15

    Answered . Generally an individual is the only one responsible for his or her own medical bills, in the absence of an enforceable agreement to pay the debts of another. So the most basic answer is no, one doesnt have a duty to pay for a parent's medical bills.

    Sometimes there is an exception for payment of necessaries, which can allow for a health care provider to successfully collect from parents for children's medical debts, or, for them to collect from a spouse for another spouse's medical debts. However, the "doctrine of necessaries" does not extend to children paying for parents' medical bills.

    You should also know that a creditor may open an estate for a decedent who owes them money, and try to collect against their estate owned assets. It is rare but sometimes happens. Likewise, if a child is in the role of fiduciary for a deceased parent, say, though an estate proceeding or a trust, then, the child has a possible legal duty and role as fiduciary to pay the parent's bill out of the decedent's assets subject to the facts and law.

    If a bill collector misrepresents that children owe any legal duty to pay for their parents medical bills, that might, given the specific facts or context, itself be a violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

    This is only practical advice. You should hire your own lawyer and talk to him or her personally about all the relevant details in order to have legal advice upon which you can wisely rely.

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