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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2008

    Debts of Deceased Spouse

    What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? Tennessee

    My husband died in March 08 of Pancreatic Cancer. He was self employed prior to his illness and had two business visa credit cards. One had a balance of about $8,000 and the other $13,000. I was not a joint account holder on either card. I have sent certified death certificates to each creditor. The creditor that was owed $8,000 said they would charge the amount off and I have not rcvd any futher calls or letters. The other creditor however calls daily and sends bills and notices weekly. I don't have the means to pay this debt and I have explained this to them. What can I do? I also have a $3,000 medical bill from the cancer clinic he went to and an $800 ambulance bill from his last visit to the hospital. I need to know what my rights are as the surviving spouse of a deceased cancer patient.

    Sincerly Stressed Out,

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    You are not personally liable for the credit card debt. You can send a certified letter to the creditor along with a copy of the death certificate. Just say that you are not personally liable for the debt and to "cease all communication". That should stop the calls and letters. It is possible that you could be sued. If so, you will need to file an answer to the lawsuit and assert your defenses. This sounds scary but really is not all that hard to do.

    Your husband's debts should be paid from his estate. I am not sure what sort of assets your husband left and this can be a little complicated -- you might want to consult with a probate attorney.

    Note that any life insurance proceeds are not part of his estate. That money belongs to the beneficiaries.

    The medical bills are in a different category. Under the doctrine of necessaries, both spouses are responsible for medical bills. That is true in most states. I cannot speak for TN.

    Does this help?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2008

    Thank You

    Yes your advice helps. Thank you very much.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2008


    You will need to send a copy of the death certificate to the creditors to get them to leave you alone. Depending on who the creditor is, they may try to make a claim against the estate. You'll need to discuss this with your probate attorney as well as the accountant for your deceased husband's business.

    As for the medical debt, both spouses are equally responsible in Tennessee. You'll need to make arrangements to pay for the medical debt owed. I STRONGLY suggest setting up a payment plan with the orignal creditor - the hospital, ambulance service, etc. - instead of letting it become very delinquent and going to a collection agency. The original creditors are MUCH more flexible and willing to work with you than collection agencies are.

    If the medical debt does go to a collection agency, do your best to make a payment plan that you can live with and avoid having a judgment.

    Hope this helps. Best of luck to you.

    - TN Defender

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2008

    Debts of deceased spouse

    What about the state of California? Is the surviving spouse responsible for the deceased medical bills? Is the surviving spouse responsible for the deceased individual debt? Is the deceased life insurance part of the deceased estate?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    In honor of JetX ~ Somnambulist University
    Quote Originally Posted by donbosco View Post
    What about the state of California? Is the surviving spouse responsible for the deceased medical bills? Is the surviving spouse responsible for the deceased individual debt? Is the deceased life insurance part of the deceased estate?

    you would be better served if you started your own new thread. The seniors will have an easier time helping you this way.

    by the way... great name, I have many friends who went there.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2008

    Oklahoma Debt collections question

    I am not a legal expert by any stretch of the imagination, but if I am understanding all of this right, debt collectors cannot go after surviving spouse (myself) for ambulance expenses incurred by the deceased spouse (my wife) in Oklahoma, based on case law cited below, right?

    Oklahoma abrogated the doctrine of necessaries

    Account Specialists and Credit Collections, Inc. v. Jackman
    1998 OK CIV APP 175
    970 P.2d 202
    69 OBJ 4330
    Case Number: 90707
    Decided: 09/29/1998
    Mandate Issued: 12/10/1998

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