He had medicare, but it only covered 80%. We are getting bills for the remainder and I am starting to get phone calls from some providers (which I have not answered). My parents did not own any property. Their only assets are a car and one bank account with about $6000. I was advised not to pay any of the bills, small or large, to stay consistent and to write a master letter to inform all providers that there is no estate so the bills cannot be payed. Is this correct? Thanks!
In general I agree with your take on the situation. Neither you nor your mother should have liability for his medical services. However I do have some reservations. Sometimes medical providers request/require a spouse to sign a guarantee, as for example at the time of admission to a hospital. If your father received Medicaid benefits, say from a long term stay in a skilled nursing facility, your state may seek to recover from jointly owned assets. If your father's creditors do not accept your letter, you should see a local attorney for advice specific to the facts and circumstances of your case.
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Unless your mom signed the contract for medical services for your dad then she can’t be held personally liable. If your dad’s passing was recent, it may be possible claims were not fully processed through supplemental insurance he may have had. If your dad had a Medicare supplemental policy, contact the insurance company and confirm if claims were submitted. Your parents would have qualified for a type of Medicare extra help through a program called “Qualified Medicare Beneficiary” (QMB), which covers the cost of the Part B premium and the 20% copayment and deductibles. If your mom hasn’t qualified for QMB, make application for her ASAP.
Finally, if the bank account is joint, I would recommend your mom withdrawing the balance and opening an individual account.
In Georgia, she could file in the probate court a petition for twelve months support, which is a statutory right of a surviving spouse to get an award of property from the decedent’s estate before the payment of his unsecured debts, such as medical bills. There is a 2 year limitation period for filing from the date of passing.
Before you put your mom to the expense of the petition, confirm whether she signed the contract for medical services for your dad. If not, then transfer the bank balance to her and send the letter you were previously urged to write and send. Under no circumstances should your mother voluntarily agree to pay the bill or the provider could then hold her liable.
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