If you are married, it is important to understand your legal responsibilities when it comes to your spouse’s medical debt. In many cases, spouses are jointly responsible for medical bills incurred by either party.
This can be a difficult issue to navigate, especially if you are not responsible for the debt yourself. In this article, we will discuss the basics of spouses’ medical debt and what you can do if you find yourself in this situation.
When Are You Responsible for Your Spouse’s Medical Debt
If your spouse has racked up a significant amount of medical debt, you may be wondering if you are responsible for their debt.
In general, one spouse is not required to cover the medical expenses of the other. Unfortunately, there are a few exceptions to this principle.
The answer is not always clear-cut, as it depends on a few different factors.
You live in a community property state
If you live in a community property state, you may be responsible for your spouse’s medical debt even if you are not responsible for the debt yourself. Community property states treat all assets and debts acquired during marriage as belonging to both spouses. This means that if your spouse incurs medical debt, you may be held responsible for that debt, regardless of who actually owes the money.
You signed or acted as a co-signer
If you signed or acted as a co-signer on your spouse’s medical debt, you are likely responsible for that debt. When spouses sign a contract together, both spouses are legally bound to the terms of that contract. This means that if your spouse owes money on a medical bill, you are responsible for that debt along with them.
Under the “doctrine of necessities”
In some states, spouses are held responsible for each other’s medical debt under the “doctrine of necessities.” This doctrine typically applies to married couples, but in some cases, it may also apply to unmarried partners who live together.
Under this doctrine, each spouse is responsible for providing the necessities of life for the other spouse. This includes food, clothing, shelter, and medical care. If one spouse incurs a medical debt, the other spouse may be held responsible for paying it off.
This doctrine is based on the idea that each spouse has a duty to support the other spouse. In most cases, this responsibility only applies to necessary expenses.
Am I responsible for my spouse’s medical debt after death?
When a spouse dies, the surviving spouse is not usually responsible for the deceased spouse’s medical debt. However, there are some exceptions to this rule.
If the couple had joint accounts or if the deceased spouse named the surviving spouse as a cosigner on their medical bills, then the surviving spouse may be held liable for the debt.
Additionally, if the couple lived in a community property state, any debts incurred during the marriage may be considered joint debts, even if only one spouse was responsible for them.
As a result, it is important to check with an attorney or financial advisor to determine whether you are liable for your deceased spouse’s medical debt.
Medical Debts During Marriage
No one gets married expecting to get divorced. And while medical debt can be a source of stress in any relationship, it can be especially difficult to deal with during a divorce.
In many states, medical debt that is incurred during the marriage is considered to be community property, which means that it will be split evenly between the two spouses in the divorce.
Don’t Convert Your Medical Debt into Credit Card Debt
All of the debts held by each spouse become joint when two people marry. You are both accountable for any debt, regardless of whose name is on it. This covers not only credit card debt but also loans. As a result, attempting to change your medical debt into some other form will most likely be ineffective.
Need Help with Medical Debt?
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your medical debt, it may be time to seek help.
A local attorney who specializes in consumer credit and bankruptcy can best advise you on the options available to you.
Don’t wait until things get too bad – reach out for help today.